Unfortunately, older Americans as a group are prime victims for con artists due to their stable financial situation, trusting nature, and declining cognitive and/or sensory abilities. Although we have written about scams targeting seniors in a previous blog, this type of fraud is increasing, especially this time of year, so we wanted to address it again.
According to a recent article from Forbes, there are four types of scams that every senior (and their family) needs to know about. In our opinion, the worst one is where fraudsters prey on widows after their husbands have passed away, demanding immediate payment of a large, fake debt and threatening dire consequences for delay. There are very few debts that need to be paid immediately after someone’s death in Florida; please check with an attorney if you get a call like this. You should also look out for calls from vendors of home repair services or products seeking payment for something never actually ordered, magazine companies seeking to collect after a free trial subscription, and “bank inspectors” requesting a large withdrawal from a bank account to help with a fraud investigation.
We have also come across another scam recently that does not appear to be specifically targeted at seniors, but which may be more likely to fool the elderly than younger adults. Fraudulent calls are being made, and messages left (including on our office voicemail!), stating that the caller is with the IRS and informing the call recipient that he or she owes taxes and may be arrested if they do not call a given phone number. The IRS has issued an official warning about this scam, stating that the IRS always sends a written notice of taxes due by mail and never asks for payment information over the phone. Anyone who gets a call and has any doubt about their tax status can contact the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040.
For more information on common scams against seniors and how to protect yourself or your loved ones, see what the FBI has to say here.