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By Sheila Burba, Medicare Assistance Program Counselor, Life Senior Services

Senior scams are among the most common crimes of the 21st Century, and sadly, 1 in 13 senior adults will be abused, neglected, and/or financially exploited. Surprisingly, only 1 in 44 senior adult financial abuse cases is ever reported by law enforcement. Many seniors feel embarrassed to report a scam and therefore leave it unreported.

Some of the top types of senior scams include Medicaire scams, counterfeit prescription drugs, funeral and cemetery scams, and the “Grandparent” scam (someone calls pretending to be a grandchild, saying they are in a dire situation and need money wired right away).

One of the most common senior scams is Identity Theft. Click here to read about “Safeguarding Against Senior Identity Theft.”

Helping a Loved One

If you are worried that a loved one may be the victim of a scam, here are a few warning signs:

  • Unusual recent changes in a person’s accounts, including atypical withdrawals, a new person being added, or sudden use of their ATM or credit card.
  • The person suddenly appears confused, unkempt and afraid.
  • Utility, rent, mortgage, medical, or other essential bills are unpaid despite adequate income.
  • Caregiver will not allow others access to the senior.
  • Piled up sweepstakes mailings, magazine subscriptions or “free gifts,” which mean they may be on “sucker lists.”

In closing, you can do several things to protect yourself and others from falling victim to scams:

  1. Be aware that you’re at risk from strangers and those closest to you.
  2. Don’t isolate yourself – stay involved!
  3. Always tell solicitors, “I never buy from (or give to) anyone who calls or visits me unannounced. Send me something in writing.”
  4. Shred all receipts with your credit card number.
  5. Sign up for the “Do Not Call” list (1-888-382-1222) and take yourself off multiple mailing lists.
  6. Use direct deposit for benefit checks.
  7. Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicaire, or other personal information over the phone unless you initiate the call.
  8. Ask for help if you are a victim!

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