Guardianships are often put in place to help support and protect seniors who have advanced memory issues or other concerns that make independence possible. While these can be helpful for those who have loved ones in charge of the guardianships, there is also a possibility for guardianship fraud and abuse.
A recent piece by U.S. Representative Charlie Crist of Florida details some of the forms this fraud can take and ways that seniors can stay protected.
Since guardianships control finances, living arrangements, and medical decisions, having the wrong hands in charge can be disastrous for seniors. Guardianship fraud and abuse can involve taking funds from seniors, including their Social Security benefits and retirement savings.
A few ways to protect yourself or a loved one include:
Create power of attorney documents – These will ensure that only someone you trust can make important decisions for you.
Talk with a lawyer – Have a lawyer look over any important documents, like a living will.
Call on Congress to pass legislation – Ask you representatives to pass legislation protecting seniors.
Taking these steps can help you stay protected against guardianship fraud and abuse.
Your Social Security number (SSN) is a vital part of protecting your personal and financial information. It’s used for everything from filing taxes to opening a bank account. Unfortunately, scammers are using it for their own gain by preying on unsuspecting seniors.
How the Social Security Scam Letter Works
How does this scam work? According to an NBC affiliate station, you’ll receive a letter that claims to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA). It’ll claim that your SSN is being suspended because of suspected identity theft. The letter will go on to claim that your SSN is part of a $14 million dollar fraud investigation and will require you to call a phone number in order to reactivate it.
Of course, this is all lies.
The real Social Security Administration may contact you by letter, but they won’t ask for your personal information or threaten to suspend your SSN—and they’ll know your name. If you look closely at this Social Security scam letter, you’ll notice:
It doesn’t address you by name
The date isn’t in American format
And, of course, your Social Security number cannot be suspended—it’s yours for life.
The Seniors Center
If you receive one of these letters, DON’T call the number or provide any personal information. Keep your information safe by knowing the signs of a scam and never giving away your SSN. The Seniors Center Blog is here to help you stay informed and alert. Discover more tips and resources on our website, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest information.
The holidays are a time for giving, but unfortunately that also means it’s prime time for fraudsters to target unsuspecting seniors. Social Security Matters recently posted an article on how to protect yourself from imposter fraud during the holidays. It’s important that seniors stay informed and vigilant to ensure their hard-earned savings don’t end up in the hands of a scammer.
How Scam Artists Can Pose as Government Officials
Social Securit Matters reports that some criminals may attempt to pose as government officials. They might call or email pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA), IRS, or other federal agency. These scammers will often try to convince seniors that they are entitled to a tax refund or other payment, but must first provide personal information in order to receive it.
What Seniors Can Do To Stay Safe
The best way for seniors to protect themselves from imposter fraud is to ignore suspicious emails and calls. The SSA, IRS, and other government agencies will never contact you to ask for personal information or for money to be sent in the form of gift cards. These government agencies will send a letter via the mail instead.
There are many different types of scams targeting seniors, from fraudulent investment schemes to fake lottery scams. And with seniors being one of the most vulnerable demographic groups when it comes to fraud, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has put together a new advisory group to help fight back against these scams.
How the FTC Advisory Group Will Fight Back
According to the FTC, this group is part of the Stop Senior Scams Act. It will bring together “federal agency partners, consumer advocates, and industry representatives” to identify and find ways to stop scams that target seniors.
A few of the ways that the group plans to do this are by:
Improving education efforts
Finding innovative ways to prevent scams
Improving industry training
Developing research to better understand how seniors are targeted by scammers
This initiative comes on the heels of a new program in Pennsylvania bringing together government agencies and community resources to help seniors who have been victimized by scams. This new wave of anti-scam efforts is a welcome relief for seniors.
Phone calls, emails, and even in-person visits used to be the only way scammers could try to trick people out of their money. But with the rise of social media, scammers now have a whole new way to target their victims.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide scammers with a gold mine of information about potential targets. They can learn your interests, your family and friends, and even your daily routines. This information can be used to create believable scams that are much harder to spot than the more traditional methods.
The Most Common Social Media Scams
The FTC reports that in 2021, more than one in four of those who reported a scam said they were contacted through social media. And the scams are only getting more sophisticated.
A few of the most common types of social media scams include:
Crypto scams — Have you heard the buzz around investing in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies? Scammers are using social media to promote fake investments, often promising high returns with little or no risk. Just remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Romance scams — This is one of the most common types of social media scams, and it can be devastating. Using a fake profile, scammers will start a relationship and then ask for money, often for a bogus emergency.
Online shopping fraud — Ever ordered something online and it never arrived? Scammers are using social media to promote fake online stores and websites. You might purchase an item, but you’ll never receive it.
The best way to protect yourself from social media scams is to be aware of them. The Seniors Center Blog can help you stay up-to-date on the latest scams. If you’re contacted by someone you don’t know, be cautious about giving out any personal information. Always get a second opinion before making any financial decisions, and consider talking to a trusted friend or family member before taking any action.
Scams targeting seniors are always heartless. But one of the worst ways that criminals attempt to steal from seniors is by first posing as a trusted helper.
That’s exactly what happened recently at a senior living facility in Massachusetts, where a woman posing as a nurse’s aid was caught stealing precious valuables and money from residents.
According to AP News, the woman had personal checks, valuables, and ID cards from a number of senior living communities. By targeting individuals in senior living with dementia, she was able to steal without anyone noticing.
Seniors can stay safe by being wary of anyone asking for sensitive information. While scammers will continue to pose as helpful professionals, being alert and aware of your surroundings is important.
The Seniors Center is working to educate and inform seniors to help them stay safe. From senior scams to Social Security, we have the latest information on what seniors need to know. Visit our website for more information.
To find out more about what you can do to protect yourself or your loved ones, visit our website—or follow us on Twitter and Facebook so you never miss an update.
A new scam is targeting seniors—specifically, seniors with investments. Using fear tactics relating to economic insecurity, scam artists are working to convince retirees to trade their hard-earned investments for coins made out of precious metals that don’t hold the same value. Learn how to stay safe today.
How This Precious Metals Scam Works
How does this precious metals scam work?
First, salespeople will prey on fears about society at large—the pandemic, economic issues, or other forms of instability. They’ll attempt to convince their targets that having money in traditional investments is no longer safe.
Their alternative to investments? Buying coins made out of precious metals such as gold or silver.
However, fees and high markups can inflate the cost of these coins. Those who buy them are left with items of far less value than their investments were worth.
AARP reports that, Joe Rotunda, a member of the Texas State Securities Board, has noted that “These scams prey on the concerns that senior citizens may have relating to the economy, their retirement and their financial well-being.”
Be wary of anyone using pressuring tactics to encourage you to buy coins made out of precious metals. Talk to a trusted financial advisor before making any decisions involving large amounts of money. And report fraud to the FTC when possible.
As 2022 gets underway, retirees across the country are taking a careful look at their finances and making plans for the year. High COLAs for Social Security beneficiaries and new guidelines relating to the COVID-19 pandemic might ease some worries for seniors this year. However, one thing retirees need to keep in mind as they plan for 2022 is how to stay safe from a new senior scam.
How does this scam work? Scammers are targeting Social Security beneficiaries by sending fraudulent letters on official-looking letterheads. According to the Social Security Administration, these letters will ask recipients to call a number to activate their cost-of-living adjustment. However, the SSA cautions that COLAs are automatic. While the scammers might use authentic-sounding names, even the names of real SSA officials, you should be wary of anyone making threats or demands.
What This 2022 Senior Scam Looks Like
What can you do to stay safe? Ignore letters, texts, emails, or calls from anyone who:
Demands your personal information
Threatens to suspend your SSN or seize your bank account
Demands payment, often through gift cards
Have a loved one look over any messaging you find suspicious. And you can report scam attempts to the Social Security Administration so they can investigate.