Thursday, March 31, 2011

Seniors Be Aware of Scams

Scams of senior citizens are growing each year. Here are some of the most prevalent scams to be aware of: Investment and work at home schemes: In an effort to supplement their fixed incomes seniors respond to these direct mail and e-mail ads. The investment invitations promise huge returns and usually require victim to sign up quickly. In working from home scams, whether it is stuffing envelopes, data entry or serving as a “mystery shopper” the offers that are not legitimate ask the applicant to send money up front to cover start up costs. Medicare scams: Seniors are called or e-mailed by someone who claims to be with Medicare saying some errors have occurred and they need updated information such as social security, bank account or credit card numbers. Medicare will never request personal financial information by phone or e-mail. Lottery and sweepstakes scams: Typically a letter is sent to the victim announcing they are a big winner of a lottery or sweepstakes. There is either a request to wire money to pay the taxes and process the winning prize or the letter will even include a bogus check with instructions to deposit the check and then wire a portion of the prize back to cover taxes etc. When the check bounces the victim is out of that “tax money” or processing amount with little or no recourse because it was wired to an overseas account. Unprofessional professionals: This con game is more prevalent this time of year. A knock on the door and unsuspecting seniors invite an unscrupulous roof repairer, termite exterminator, gas leak technician, air duct cleaner, or other shoddy home repair specialist into their homes. They often claim to have been working in the neighborhood and noticed or suspected similar problems with the victim’s house. For reliable handyman services, please contact “We Care Home Repair” – a program of Senior Citizen Services of Metropolitan Atlanta – for affordable, trustworthy repairs at 404-351-6573. Bereavement scams: These are the cruelest of all con games: The scammers take advantage of seniors who have recently lost loved ones, most likely a spouse, daughter or son by scouring the obituaries. They call the widow or widower or grieving parent claiming that their dear departed has outstanding debts that need to be paid immediately by check or credit card. Grandchild in trouble scam: The con artist impersonates a grandchild to a senior who may have some hearing deficit or claims to be some sort of law enforcement or public official giving details of the young person’s financial or legal trouble that needs to be dealt with immediately. Wire the money now is the request to avoid sending the grandchild to jail or bailing them out of one. Please ensure that you and your loved ones are vigilant in protecting yourself and the older adults that are important to you.

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