From suspicious claims in an email to unsolicited letters, most of us assume we are not naive enough to fall victim to a financial scammer. This is a mistake. It takes only a moment of confusion or a lapse in judgement to provide a fraudster with the the tools they need to steal.
Financial scammers thrive in confusion and unfamiliarity. There is a reason that seniors are targeting more often than others–the elderly may be less familiar with certain aspects of modern technology or culture. As such, scammers are able to poke at their uncertainty in order to gain trust and ultimately take advantage.
These frauds are often connected to current events. Disgustingly, it was only hours after the Boston bombings that some fake charities were set up in an attempt to dupe well-intentioned community members into donating money that would end up in the pockets of criminals. Along the same lines, fraudsters are trying to exploit unfamiliarity and confusion about the high-profile national health care law. Many aspects of the law are set to take effect this year, and most community members are unfamiliar with the details of those changes. Scam artists are stepping into the void, working to use the complexity of the law to solicit funds from unsuspecting community members. Senior citizens are the most likely to be hurt.
Health Care Law Scams
New York Now discussed those health care scams in a story this week. The tricks are usually quite simple. For example, one New York senior explained how she was called by an unknown number. The caller claimed that as part of the new healthcare law, they were verifying information for Medicare. He then proceeded to confirm basic details, like name, phone number, and address. The senior did not become suspicious until the man asked to confirm her bank routing number. The woman hesitated before hanging up.
Afterward, she did the right thing: calling Medicare to report a possible scam. In so doing she became one of a shocking 80,000 people who report similar scam attempts each and every year. The numbers are on the rise, with a 12% jump last year from the previous one.
Officials note that anyone can be affected, but seniors are far and away the prime targets. This is a product of their tendency to answer the phone, retirement savings, and trusting nature.
It is important to be vigilant about these risks, both for yourself and senior loved ones. Occasionally asking about these issues or related financial matters is a simple way to broach the topic and ensure a family members is not exploited. Also, discussing some planning and protection matters with an elder law attorney may be a good step to provide real security.