This holiday season, help your loved one (or yourself) watch out for scams. Scammers often target seniors during the holiday season, since it is a time when people are frequently spending money on gifts. These tips from FBI.gov will help you protect yourself- and your money!
There are a few reasons why seniors are more likely to be the targets of scams:
- Senior citizens are most likely to have savings, own their home, or have good credit.
- It is likely they were raised to be polite and trusting, traits which con artists can easily exploit.
- Seniors are less likely to report scams due to shame, or not knowing who to report to.
- The effect of age on memory means that the elderly may be less able to supply enough detailed information when reporting to investigators.
- Senior citizens may be more interested in products promising benefits such as increased cognitive function or anti-cancer properties.
There are a few different types of fraud that seniors may encounter. Healthcare or health insurance fraud may involve scammers offering “free” products or lab tests that are then charged to the victim’s insurance or Medicare.
A few ways to avoid these scams:
- Never sign blank insurance forms or give your provider full authorization to bill for services.
- Avoid doing business with salespeople, either on the phone or in person, who offer free equipment or tests.
- Do not give out your Medicare information to anyone other than those providing medical services.
Telemarketing scams are also common. Scammers will offer prizes, discounted health care products and vacation deals over the phone. They will often pressure the victim by claiming the offer is only good for a short time, or insist on the victim sending a check or money order before they can fully consider the offer.
A few tips to avoid telemarketing scams:
- Check out unfamiliar companies with the Better Business Bureau or National Fraud Information Center before doing business with them.
- Pay for services only after they are delivered.
- Don’t pay for a “free prize” if one is offered.
- Don’t make a snap decision – legitimate companies will give you time to consider an offer.
- Never send money, credit card information or personal information to unfamiliar companies or people.
- If an offer is “too good to be true”, it probably is.
You can read more information about various types of scams and how to avoid them at FBI.gov. Be sure to stay safe this holiday season!