Seniors work hard to save for their retirement years, and often live on tight budgets to ensure their standard of living. Sadly, financial scammers are out there at work designing schemes targeted specifically to this group.
USA Today’s finance reporter Rodney Brooks reviewed some of the more successful schemes aimed at seniors. Hopefully this information will prevent you or a loved one becoming a target:
- Asking you to pay for something you’ve won – The most popular version of this scam is a caller saying you’ve won a lottery or an inheritance, and that you need to pay some small fee to secure it. Always say no. This also applies to paying for something you didn’t order – such as an outfit sending you a book you didn’t order, and you feel like doing the “right thing” and paying for it if you keep it. The problem is, they can use your payment data (card info or checking account).
- Grandparent scam – This is prevalent now all over the country. Someone will call in distress, claiming to be your grandchild who needs emergency money. They ask you not to tell their parents because they don’t want to get into trouble with them. An all-too-plausible story, which is why it works.
- Fake computer virus – This one also works because it sounds plausible. Someone will call your home pretending to be from Microsoft or a different computer company. They tell you that your computer has a virus and if you log onto a certain site, they can get rid of it for you. Once they get you to log onto their site, you’ve given them access to the contents of your computer, including personal and financial information stored on it.
- Home repair scam – These scammers will either call you or come to the door, saying they’ve noticed some part of your home needs repair – maybe the roof or a broken tree limb. They sound and look respectable – but they try to get money for repairs you don’t need or start a job and don’t finish it. It is best just to say no, but if you’re wondering if they might be legitimate, have a response ready like, “I’ll take your card and talk it over with my daughter/son or lawyer.” The goal is to make them believe you have a support system nearby who will help you keep a look out for scams.
- Medical device scam – These folks will call and tell you about some kind of special deal on popular medical equipment for home use. Once you express interest, they ask you to make a deposit and/or give them your Medicaid number. Never fall for this – the product will never come, and you risk not only the money you paid for a deposit, but they now have some of your personal and financial information.
Most of these scams succeed because you don’t have a way to verify the business. Experts recommend putting a note by your phone to remind yourself not to give out personal information. No matter how believable they sound, always get their name and number and hang up so you can talk it over with someone you trust. If they pressure you to act now or won’t give you their information, that’s a sure sign to hang up.