Senior Scams In a Modern World

Baby Boomers are getting older and smarter everyday. Those born in the years following World War II represent about 23% of today’s U.S. population—around 74 million Americans. Scammers love baby boomers! But you can outsmart them.

Newsweek once published an article entitled “Babies Mean Business” and they were right. As a group, Baby Boomers were wealthier, more active and more physically fit than any preceding generation; they were the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time.

The post-war economic boom did create endless opportunities for this young generation to have a well-paying job or open their own business. The problem today is that the crooks of the world know where the money is and are constantly cooking up scams to get at it.

NCOA is the National Council on Aging. Their goal is to improve the lives of older adults by providing information to make them smarter about the signs of elder abuse, live healthier lives, and have economic security—including money management. See their Top Ten list of scams targeting seniors in our modern world.

If you skip the link, at least read #10: The grandparent scam…

The grandparent scam is so simple and so devious because it uses one of older adults’ most reliable assets, their hearts.

Scammers will place a call to an older person and when the mark picks up, they will say something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer has established a fake identity without having done a lick of background research.

Once “in,” the fake grandchild will usually ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem (overdue rent, payment for car repairs, etc.), to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram, which don’t always require identification to collect. At the same time, the scam artist will beg the grandparent “please don’t tell my parents, they would kill me.”

While the sums from such a scam are likely to be in the hundreds, the very fact that no research is needed makes this a scam that can be perpetrated over and over at very little cost to the scammer.

We at DLMoneyMatters care deeply about seniors. Read why here. We provide daily money management for seniors, children of aging parents, family trusts, executives and entrepreneurs, and attorneys and accountants who outsource these services. Call us for a personal quote. (513) 322-1036.

Ohio’s Stronger Rules to Protect Seniors

Ohio statehouse cupolaWith more Americans turning 65 and living longer, the opportunities for financial fraud on seniors grows exponentially. The State of Ohio is about to add add an additional level of protection for seniors this month with SB 158.

Currently, all 50 states have elder abuse laws that require attorney, doctors, hospitals, home health care agencies, clergy and others to report suspicious activity for financial abuse. We expect the Ohio bill, which has already passed the State Senate, to be effective September 29, 2018. In addition to greater fines for abusers, it will require the state to distribute no fewer than six public awareness publications each year on the warning signs of senior fraud.

At DL MoneyMatters, senior fraud has been top of mind since the beginning. DLMM owner Diana Louiso is a Cincinnati native with over 30 years of hands-on accounting experience, but when her professional life dovetailed with the family experience as caretaker of an aging parent overseeing financial matters and personal care, Diana was motivated to make both business and personal “money matters” her business. As the business grew, DLMM added cash management services, bookkeeping services, and year-end support for small business and entrepreneurs.

According to the code, “any person with reasonable cause to believe that an adult is suffering abuse, neglect, or exploitation who makes a report pursuant to this section or who testifies in any administrative or judicial proceeding arising from such a report, or any employee of the state or any of its subdivisions who is discharging responsibilities under section 5101.65 of the Revised Code shall be immune from civil or criminal liability on account of such investigation, report, or testimony, except liability for perjury, unless the person has acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose.” We fully support this Ohio Revised Code 5101.63(A).

This move by the Ohio legislature will heighten our awareness and should yours as well. Our daily money management employees are trained to spot potential fraud and we have always taken the necessary steps to inform our clients and senior caretakers regarding any suspicious activity.

Below are links to learn more about the threat of senior fraud and why it’s so important now.

Mike DeWine Ohio Attorney General—Elder Fraud

Top Senior Scams

There are three areas where older Americans are most susceptible to scams:

  1. The Internal Revenue Service
  2. Medicare
  3. Charitable Giving

1. The IRS

The IRS is huge, mysterious, intimidating and powerful—and all these things make IRS scams the #1 senior scam year after year.

Email Phishing

Like it’s name implies, these scam artists are “fishing” for information. A phishing scheme happens when a senior receives a phony email claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service announcing a tax refund is due to them. If a senior provides the bad guys with their personal and financial information, their identity is stolen and used to open bogus credit cards and other financial transactions in their name.

Know what to do if you believe you’ve fallen prey to an IRS phishing scheme as recommended by U.S. News.

2. Medicare

medicare cardEveryone on Medicare will receive new cards this spring. For protection, they will no longer have your Social Security number on the front of the card—it’s being replaced with a random number/letter sequence—in an attempt to reduce scams and fraud.

So what happened? Scammers posing as Medicare “agent” or health care providers started calling senior to tell them they needed to “purchase” a replacement card. Know that the new Medicare cards are free and being sent via postal mail to your address.

If you’ve received a phone call from a Medicare scammer, call 1-800-HHT-TIPS (1-800-447-8477).

3. Charitable Giving

We are a generous country. Americans love to give and support the causes they love. Scammers know this, make charity scams #3 on the top 3 list. This scam is a phone call from someone asking for a donation, usually shortly after a natural disaster like hurricanes, floods, or fires. If the person says you must “wire the donation,” put it on a gift card, or load it on a cash reload card, it’s a scam.

If you received a solicitation after a disaster asking for money delivered by any of the above methods, hang up the phone, toss that postcard, delete the email, or shut the door…then report it to the FTC online.