One of the most frustrating challenges facing seniors involves scams and general fraud. For a variety of reasons, which we will explore here, seniors are a consistent target for con artists of all shapes, sizes, and intents. This has been a problem facing seniors for a long time indeed. Worse yet, the advent of technology in our lives has created a more elaborate concern facing seniors in a number of potential situations and scenarios. The concept of senior scams and senior fraud scares many seniors. Unfortunately, their fears are understandable to a significant extent.
Dealing With Senior Scams Head-On
However, fear is not going to do anyone any good. There are thankfully a number of simple things that seniors can do, when it comes to avoiding elderly scams. At the end of the day, a certain degree of caution will protect you from falling victim more often than not. Knowing specific scams to look for can also be immensely useful.
For example, if you were to buy something online, such as a senior cellphone or smartphone, you would want to make sure you’re turning to a trusted retailer. You certainly don’t want to give out your personal information, including your finances, to anyone you cannot implicitly trust.
Tips On Avoiding Senior Citizen Scams
To scammers, senior citizens present a desirable target. Senior citizens are more likely to have a nest egg, less likely to report theft, and have values that sometimes lead to trusting the wrong people. The desire of seniors to retain cognitive functions and other aspects of their health also lends itself well to cons and scams.
While it can be difficult to navigate these waters, particularly when you are online, you do not have to settle for anxiety. Keep in mind these senior scam tips, and you will have a clear idea of how to protect yourself on every level:
- Understand the inherent risk: We aren’t trying to be alarmist here. At the same time, knowing that this risk exists in the first place can go a long way towards helping you avoid financial traps and other concerns. It is imperative to understand that strangers pose a risk. The same can even be said for someone who is close to you. An overwhelming majority of elder abuse cases, for example, are carried out by family members. Do not live a life governed by fear. At the same time, know and prepare for harmful possibilities.
- Don’t become isolated: Losing any degree of mobility can make it challenging to want to go out on your own. A variety of conditions can make this so. This can lead to seniors isolating themselves, which is not a good idea either. Seek out services and communities designed to help those in such situations. Maintaining social connections on a smartphone or cellphone designed for seniors can make it easy to enjoy the benefits of modern technology, including keeping up with your community, without the hassles of features you don’t need.
- Know how to deal with solicitors: Solicitors can still come to your door, but they can also appear through phone calls, text messages, emails, and social media. Anyone can be tempted by a sad story, or perhaps a service/product that just sounds too good to be true. Seniors are particularly susceptible to these things. If a solicitor appears to you in person, tell them that you do not commit to anything without further written information. Tell them that you do not commit to anything on the spot. This approach can work with other methods of communication. Simply tell them to send you more information from a reliable source. If they tell you there isn’t time, then they are definitely trying to rip you off!
- Healthcare fraud: This is a huge issue facing seniors in the United States and elsewhere. Do not sign any insurance claim forms that are blank. Do not give blanket permission to providers on billing matters. Keep accurate records at all times. Medical information, particularly medical ID information, should only be given out when services have been rendered.
- Medicare fraud: If you have Medicare, be extremely cautious around any salespeople who promise you they’re products are covered. This is a good opportunity to ask for proof in writing.
- Dealing with companies: Do not buy anything from a company you are unfamiliar with. If the opportunity really appeals to you, do some research on the business in question. Looking up the business on an internet search engine can accomplish a lot. You can check out third-party reviews of the business, as well as learn anything available through organizations like the Better Business Bureau. If you still can’t satisfy yourself, walk away from the offer.
- Be part of the solution: If you do run into a fraud, don’t keep that to yourself. There are a number of options in front of you. At the very least, the individual or company should be reported to a local, state, or a federal law enforcement agency.
- The value of research in general: One consistency among many of the tips mentioned here comes down to doing your homework. The internet makes it easier to do that than ever before. If you’re hiring a contractor, make it a point to shop around for the best one. Being online is a great way for seniors to educate and engage one another, without losing the ability to do these things in the waking world.
Protecting Yourself From Fraud
Another bright spot: On several levels, senior fraud is harder to perpetrate than it used to be. There is still so very much work to be done in this arena. Unfortunately, we must accept that we will almost certainly always live in a world in which unscrupulous individuals move with sinister intentions.
You can protect yourself with the tips mentioned above. However, there are many other things that should be kept in mind with this subject. Make it a point to arm yourself with as much information as possible. You do not have to let others take advantage of you.