It would be a wonderful world if everyone had the best interest of others at heart. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There are unscrupulous people out there who want to take advantage of others and they often target us seniors.
It can be challenging to know whether a bargain price on that dream vacation is real or not. And the scammers know it can be easy to fool us. Here are common scams to avoid.
- Romance Scams
Sadly, people of questionable character will try to scam others on dating sites or on social media sites. They will offer all the character traits you’ve always wanted in a partner and prey on those who are lonely. When they ask for money or want your personal information, it’s time to walk away.
- Lottery or Charity Scams
They’ll tell you you’re a winner. You’ve won the lottery and only need to send a fee to collect your winnings. Or they’ll tell you a sad story about a charity in need. Be sure to check out any charity before sending money.
- Tech Support Scams
These scammers either tell you there is a non-existent problem with your computer, or they respond when you do have a legitimate problem. Their goal is to take over your computer and either steal information or plant a malicious program to collect information. Don’t fall for it.
- Grandchild Scams
This scam counts on older folks’ love for their grandchildren. The caller calls you Grandma and proceeds to tell a sad story of why they need help. They may say they sound different because they’ve been hurt or in an accident. They want money or gift cards.
- Government Agency Impersonations
This scam involves impersonating a government agent who says you owe money. They threaten punitive action. These calls can be frightening, but the government never makes these kinds of calls.
- Fake Health Insurance Scams
Scammers know that the elderly are always looking for reduced rates because of fixed incomes. They capitalize on our need by offering fake insurance or fake policies that will make our lives better.
- Low-priced Prescription Drug Scams
Again, seniors often are looking for bargain prices on their prescription drugs. They respond to ads for reduced rates from other countries or for a drug “just as good” as the one they need to take. These scammers can not only take your money and deliver questionable substitutes for the actual drugs but can endanger your life.
- Anti-aging Scam Products
Yes, we’d all like to be young and gorgeous again. So anti-aging scams can sound very convincing. Any product that promises miracles or “skin as beautiful as your favorite actress” is probably lying to you.
- Fake Investment Scams
Some of our nest eggs aren’t as big as we’d hoped they’d be in our senior years. Those who are interested in investments and business opportunities need to be extra-careful of those promising big returns on small investments. Check them out before giving them your hard-earned money.
- Vacation Scams
There are lots of ways to save money on vacations. But scammers offer you a lovely stay at a known resort at an unbelievable price. Sadly, many of these offers turn out to be fakes and the buyers travel only to find they have no reservation at the hotel or resort.
- Weight Loss Scams
People of all ages are targets for weight loss scammers. They know people are desperate to lose weight and that they are easy to trick into believing it can be easy. In fact, there are no effortless ways to lose weight—it requires eating less and exercising more.
- Funeral Scams
These scammers prey on folks when they are deep in grief. They either try to extort money by telling the spouse or other relative that the deceased owed them money, or the funeral homes themselves charge for services not rendered. Have someone help you with funeral planning and watch carefully for false billings.
In general, be very cautious when fielding phone calls, e-mail offers, text messages or any online contacts with people you don’t know. Keep your personal information private, use privacy settings on your computers and other devices, and be extremely cautious about what you download from other sites. Don’t click links on questionable sites and when in doubt about the legitimacy of any caller or offer, google it, or ask a family member if it’s a scam. It just might be.