Helping Seniors with Finances – Warning Signs of Fraud

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 7,839
    Mary Alexander with Home Instead Senior Care provides some tips on how to help your senior loved ones manage their finances, and tips to prevent them from becoming targets of fraud. This video will focus on common fraud scams.

    Helping Seniors with FinancesWarning Signs of FraudMary Alexander: Hi! I'm Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care. Today I am discussing how to help your senior loved ones with their finances. And now I want to talk about common fraud scams.

    Fraud among the senior population is a serious issue, and not just from loss of money and savings, the stress, shame, and fear associated with being scammed can have horrible effects on your senior loved one's health.

    In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association Study showed that victims of elder mistreatment, including exploitation, have a three times higher mortality rate than non-victims.

    So what makes the elderly more vulnerable to being scammed? According to the FBI, there are several reasons why the elderly are targeted for fraud. First, older Americans are likely to have a nest egg, own their own homes, or have excellent credit, all of which the conman will try to tap into.

    Second, individuals who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, were generally raised to be polite and trusting. The conman will exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for this individuals to say no or just hang up the phone.

    Third, seniors are less likely to report a fraud, because they don't know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having being scammed, or do not know that they have been scammed. In some cases, an elderly victim may not report the crime, because he or she is concerned that relatives may come to the conclusion that the victim no longer has the mental capacity to take care of his or her own financial affairs.

    When an elderly victim does report the crime, they often make poor witnesses. The conman knows the effects of age on memory and is counting on the fact that the elderly victim will not be able to supply enough detailed information to the investigator.

    In addition, the victim's realization that they have been subject to fraud may take weeks, or more likely, months after contact with the conman.

    Lastly, when it comes to products that promote increase cognitive function, mobility, physical conditioning, anticancer products and so on, older Americans make up this segment of the population most concerned about these issues. In a country where new cures and vaccinations for all diseases have given every American hope for a long and fruitful life, it is not so unbelievable that the products offered by these conman can do what they say they can do.

    So what are some of the most common scams to watch out for? According to the National Association of Triads, Inc.

    , there are five common senior scams.

    One, Prices and Sweepstakes Scams. Seniors are told that they have won a sweepstakes and all they need to do is to send a check to cover the taxes, or they receive a fake check for $5,000 and are encouraged to deposit the money and send back $2,000 to cover the taxes. By the time, it's determined that these checks, which often come from an overseas bank, are worthless, the senior has lost his or her money. And then, there are also magazine sales scams, where seniors order magazine subscriptions that never show up.

    Two, Home Improvement Fraud. Criminals will knock on the senior's door offering to fix their driveway, then paint it black and charge the senior $3,000. Or seniors are asked to pay upfront to have their roofs fixed, never to see their alleged repairman again.

    Three, Phishing Schemes. Seniors receive a call from someone claiming to represent a bank or other reputable financial institution. They are warned that their financial information or credit cards have been compromised and are asked to verify their bank account number or call an 800 number where they are asked for their personal financial information.

    Four, Internet Fraud. Seniors unfamiliar with how to use the Internet can unwillingly give their credit card information to a scammer.

    Five, Identity Theft. Seniors who give up their birthday and Social Security Number can open their entire financial history to a thief.

    Now that we know some of the common scams, let's talk about ways to prevent your senior loved one from becoming a victim. We do that in the next video.