Scams that target senior citizens have been called the crime of the century, with the loss per elderly scam victim averaged at $120,000. We all want to protect our parents and grandparents, so California Live sat down with attorney, Loni Coombs, to find out how to spot and avoid scams targeting the elderly.
Beware of the popular scams
The FBI came out with a list of the top ten scams targeting elderly victims. One of the scams listed was the Medicare scam, where solicitors call the elderly pretending to be someone from Medicare and ask for personal information.
"There is an official saying 'I am a Medicare official. I need your information,'" said Coombs. "So they give their information and then that scammer uses it to file false claims and take the money."
Another scam listed was the grandparent scam. In the scam, a solicitors calls and pretends to be a grandchild of the victim and asks for money. If you or a loved one receives a call like this, there is a high possibility it could be a scam so don't get your information away.
Know the warning signs
Scammers can often ask for personal information right off the bat and at times can pressure victims into paying by threatening them. That is a big warning sign that the call is a scam. "No legitimate organization is ever going to ask for their financial information," said Coombs. "If they are pressuring to act immediately, don't go for that."
Another way to avoid scams is just to block them altogether. Get your loved one a cellphone that has an unlisted number so they will receive fewer unknown calls. Getting on a do not call list is also another way to avoid pesky calls from solicitors. Coombs even said to ditch the land line as that increases the risk of being called by scammers. "Most of the solicitations or fraud is done on land lines," Coombs said. "So talk to them about maybe getting rid of their land line altogether or not answering it."
When in doubt, check it out
If you are worried that you could be getting scammed, ask around. Ask family members or friends what they think. Coombs said if a caller is trying to convince you not to talk to a family member, it could be a sign they are illegitimate. "If they are legitimate, they will say sure go ahead," said Coombs. "They will encourage them to confirm they are actually credible."