The AARP published an article January 18, 2019 about a Senate report that seniors lose about $2.9 billion every year to scams. Seniors suffering from even mild memory loss are more likely to fall prey to these scammers.
Police have Difficulty Tracking
The police have difficulty in tracking down these cyber criminals, as many of them operate from foreign call centers thousands of miles away from their victims. The scammers are out-of-reach from state and local law enforcement. To see more about scams see our blog post from May 18, 2018.
Top 10 Scams that Targeted Seniors
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Impersonators conned people out of tens of millions of dollars. This was the most common of the scams that received more than 1,500 complaints.
- Unsolicited calls including robocalls
- Sweepstakes and Jamaican lottery scams
- Computer tech-support scams
- Elder financial abuse
- Grandparent scams
- Romance scams
- Social Security impersonation scams
- Impending lawsuit scams
- Identity theft
Law Enforcement Sweep of Elder Fraud Cases
Last February saw the largest law enforcement sweep for elder fraud cases. This led to more than 200 defendants being charged as criminals to their senior victims who lost more than half a billion dollars. Also, in 2016 five call centers in India were forced to shut down. This led to 24 co-conspirators who were sent to prison in the United States. The criminals also had to repay millions of dollars in restitution.
Scammers Gain Trust and Cooperation of their Senior Victims
The reason scams succeed is that scammers gain the trust and cooperation of their senior victims by either harassing them or seducing them. The Senate Committee says seniors should hang up if they receive any suspicious calls and then report them to the Fraud Hotline:
Tips to Help you Identify and Avoid Getting Scams
- Scammers force you to make real quick decisions and may even threaten you.
- Scammers pretend to be from a government agency like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- Scammers try to wheedle you to get at your personal information like your social security number or bank account numbers.
Never give out your credit card number or money. Consult with a family member or a friend about what to do.
- Be careful of offers for free travel.
Seven Ways Scammers get your Personal Information
Do not be fooled because someone calling you seems to know a whole lot about you and has some of your personal information. The AARP lists seven ways we give out information that can be found by these scammers.
1. Shred your Mail
If you throw out your mail instead of shredding it you are asking for trouble. These guys do not mind picking through garbage to find out your name, address, bank account numbers and other personal information. If you do not have a home shredder, you can join in a neighborhood AARP shredding event.
2. Do not Give out a lot of Personal Information in Obituaries
Obituaries are a mine field of information for scammers who can find out names of widows, widowers, children and grandchildren. Try to keep personal information out of obituaries.
3. Be Careful about Online Contests
Online contests gather information like your name, age, address and if you like to travel or want to buy a car. Also, they see that you believe in “luck” and can use this to target you.
4. Warranty Cards
Warranty cards that you mail in may ask for information about how much money you earn and this information may be sold or given to others as part of a scam.
Be careful about filling out questionnaires asking you to rate your stay at a hotel or to rate a restaurant. Both marketing firms and criminals can learn a lot about you from travel ratings that you make. This may include the kind of home or car you own.
6. Updates on Social Media like Facebook
Do not post any personal information on Facebook. In particular, do not post information about your whereabouts or update your location.
7. Public Records in the United States
Private companies dig out personal information from city, county, state, federal and census records. These may include information on your property, tax liens, criminal records and bankruptcies. These companies sell this information to anyone who wants it and this is all completely legal.
Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing
If you or your loved one are in need of a good rehab and also suffer from some memory loss, check out the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York. They offer memory care for memory loss. Van Duyn also has a fantastic recreational program.
Make sure your loved one is safe from scams.