Scams against seniors have been called the "crime of the 21st century". Seniors are often targeted for fraud because they're thought to have a lot of money. In addition, seniors with cognitive difficulties can be easy targets.
Commonplace scams against seniors
- Health insurance, healthcare, or Medicare fraud
Medicare scams are favored by scam artists, because they don't have to have knowledge of an individual's private health insurance status to scam them.
With this, the perpetrator usually poses as a Medicare representative; they ask for the older person's personal information, and/or offer to provide fake services at bogus "mobile clinics" as a means of gaining personal information. Once they've got that information, they bill Medicare and take the proceeds.
- Fake prescription drugs
Seniors may legitimately research better prices on high-cost medications via the Internet. Scammers take advantage of this by providing sites with fake substitutes that can be anything from cheap over-the-counter medications that look like the drug in question, or "manufactured" fake drugs; they can have dangerous substances in them that should never be ingested. At best, they are made of inert substances that do no harm, but do no good, either.
- Bogus funeral and cemetery services
Scams against seniors can also be perpetrated on unsuspecting widows or widowers. Scammers target victims by reading obituaries; they then show up at funerals and accost grieving spouses, or call and claim that decedents owe them money. At that point, they'll try to extort money from the spouses or other relatives.
Disreputable funeral homes also perpetrate similar scams against seniors by adding unnecessary or fake charges to legitimate funeral expense bills as a means to make extra money. For example, cardboard caskets are an inexpensive and perfectly acceptable option for a decedent who is to be immediately cremated, but an unscrupulous funeral director may say that an expensive casket is necessary.
- Telemarketing schemes
This is perhaps the most common of the scams against seniors. Fake telemarketers call older people to entice them with a variety of fake products or services; because many seniors may be lonely, and because they shop more often than the general population, they may not realize that they're being taken advantage of until it's too late. Examples of this type of scam against seniors include purchasing fake products that never arrive (or falsely charging a senior's debit or credit card), charity scams, whereby money is solicited for a fake charity (often tied to a real event, such as a natural disaster), and falsely soliciting money for a known relative or friend who is in trouble.
Protecting seniors against scams
Caution your loved one that he or she may be a target of these scams. Offer to help manage your loved one's personal finances if he or she is having trouble, and counsel him or her not to give out credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, or any personal information online or to a caller.
If your loved one is a resident of a skilled nursing facility or assisted living center, it may be that they don't need to manage personal finances on a day-to-day basis themselves anyway. Since daily needs are taken care of without having to have direct access to funds, you may be able to help your loved one buy things he or she wants under your supervision.
Rehab Select is a community-based skilled nursing facility that specializes in residential and outpatient care and rehabilitation. Our comprehensive approach involves patients and their families fully in the treatment process. Contact us online or call us at 1-844-734-2200 for expert help or to learn more about our programs and facilities.