There’s a reason why, as far back as 2013, TV stations, including WTHR in Indianapolis, were warning their viewers of senior scams. (The Federal Trade Commission Consumer Sentinel network database contained almost 124,000 individual consumer complaints that year alone from victims identified as aged 60 or older.) There’s a reason why the Office of the Indiana Attorney General now devotes numerous pages on its website to help seniors protect themselves from common scams.
And there’s a reason that, as elder law attorneys in Indiana, we at Geyer & Associates are constantly “preaching” about the need for vigilance in fighting financial scams aimed at parting seniors and their hard earned financial resources.
Some of the more common scams mentioned on the www.in.gov site include:
- Phony sweepstakes and lotteries. You receive a notice by mail that’s you’ve won the Canadian Lottery, asking for a “small” amount to cover the tax on your winnings.
- Charges for home repair services you’ve not initiated.
- Promises to return lost money, charging a fee for recovery.
- Property tax exemption offers for seniors.
- Phony offers of medical devices or other products.
- Calls or emails purporting to be from a relative or friend in trouble who needs money sent immediately.
The FBI website adds even more scam types to the watch-out-for list:
- “Nigerian letter” scams
- Ponzi schemes
- Funeral and cemetery care fraud
- Fraudulent anti-aging products
- Reverse mortgage scams
- Unnecessary lab tests (“rolling labs”)
“State legislators have become increasingly concerned about financial crimes against seniors and vulnerable adults,” Jenni Bergal of the PEW Charitable Trust wrote in 2014.
The FBI is on alert as well, and the agency’s Common Fraud Schemes web page provides specific tips for seniors (and for their concerned adult children) for avoiding different categories of fraud:
Avoid healthcare fraud by:
- Never signing bank forms
- Reviewing bills
- Providing insurance and Medicare ID information to only providers of services
- Keeping records of all healthcare appointments
Avoid telemarketing fraud by:
- Obtaining salespersons’ mailing address, telephone number, and license numbers before transaction business
- Not paying for services in advance
There’s a reason that we as Indiana elder law attorneys join the Indiana Attorney General and the FBI in constantly preaching the need for vigilance in fighting scams targeting seniors!
– by Corinna A. Smith of Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates