Being the victim of a scam can be detrimental to older adults’ mental health, making them feel helpless, embarrassed, anxious, depressed, fearful, or distrusting of others. These feelings can affect physical health as well.
By being informed about common scams and taking steps to protect yourself from fraudsters, you can avoid becoming a victim.
Fake Medical Insurance Plans
One of the most common scams targeting seniors involves unscrupulous companies that claim to be selling comprehensive healthcare plans.
They falsely claim they are experts who provide government-sponsored health insurance policies, and some even claim to be affiliated with AARP or be providers of Medicare supplement insurance plans.
In reality, the plans these companies are selling are not comprehensive and have limited benefits. Some plans are medical discount plans rather than insurance plans, and they don’t offer adequate coverage.
These scammers create websites that look official, making it difficult to recognize that what they are offering is a scam.
Some scammers operate fake technical-support operations, which are promoted through internet ads directed toward those needing technical support or password-recovery assistance.
When consumers click on these ads, they are provided with options for diagnostic testing. This fake testing will reveal that viruses are creating problems for their computers. This “testing” is a tool these companies use to convince seniors they need to purchase a service plan to remove these viruses and prevent further problems.
Seniors who are unaware of this scam and decide to purchase these service plans are putting their financial well-being at risk when they provide credit card information for payment.
Robocall Credit Card Interest Reduction
These robocall scammers claim they can help seniors lower their credit card interest rates to as low as 0%. They claim they just need to confirm and collect some information to activate this discount.
Scammers involved in this scam trick consumers into providing their credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and other personal information, which they use to apply for unauthorized credit cards in consumers’ names.
The new, lower-interest credit cards issued to consumers often have promotional rates that are low for a limited time and will eventually increase. Consumers can also be left on the hook for substantial bank fees or transaction fees.
“Be your own boss. Enjoy your golden years. Fire your boss and build your dreams.” These are just some of the claims you may have seen in ads made by scammers running business-opportunity schemes.
These ads make unsubstantiated claims that people who purchase their programs or sign up for their services can make thousands of dollars in a short time.
In reality, consumers end up paying thousands of dollars for worthless programs, and they will never get their money back. In addition to investing large amounts of money, many seniors have also ended up with loans or credit card debt to cover the cost of these financial scams.
Money-Transfer Systems Fraud
There are several different types of money-transfer system scams that con artists use to steal money from unsuspecting consumers. Some may claim to provide transfer services for a fee to send money overseas.
Others may tell you that you’ve won a lottery or cash prize, and you need to send them money to cover processing fees and taxes. Some scammers pose as representatives from charities who want you to transfer money as a donation.
Another common way scammers use money-transfer scams is to pose as sellers on auction websites, such as eBay. When a consumer purchases a product and uses a money transfer to pay for it, the seller takes the money but doesn’t send the product.
Real Estate Scams
Some scammers use fake real estate deals to steal money from seniors. These fake companies claim they are selling lots for residential development in new, luxury communities in foreign countries, often in Central America.
They claim these developments will include luxury amenities, such as golf courses. They also claim that since these developments will be completed soon, the value of the lots will increase quickly, providing a large amount of equity for buyers.
These scammers often have colorful brochures that highlight how attractive the developments are, when in reality, the land is far away from utilities, out in the middle of nowhere, or not worth a fraction of the price paid. Sometimes scammers even use fake documents to sell land they don’t own.
Negative Option Marketing
This scheme involves companies that are giving away free trials of their products if buyers pay shipping and handling costs.
After unsuspecting consumers sign up for these free products, the scammers enroll them without their consent into an auto-delivery plan for more products at full price. Sometimes consumers are also charged full price if these free trials are not canceled within a short time.
Unscrupulous fraudsters have also used this method to scam consumers out of money by charging them for additional products they did not even purchase. These scammers sell a variety of products, including personal care items, weight loss products, stop-smoking patches, and subscription programs.
Scammers often target seniors by selling fake anti-aging products that promise miraculous results. From fake Botox alternatives and face creams to youth serums and stem cell therapy treatments, the products are endless.
Some companies make unsupported claims that their products can help cure medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and macular degeneration.
Unsuspecting consumers can end up spending several thousand dollars as they sign up for expensive initial anti-aging treatments and then find out they need more treatments to achieve the promised results.
Some of these anti-aging products are nothing but placebos, and some may include harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde.
If you have been the target of a scam, report it to the FTC by phone or online: (877) FTC-HELP or ftc.gov/complaint.
Filing a complaint can provide investigators with the information they need to identify scammers and prevent them from harming other people.
Article courtesy California Mobility (https://californiamobility.com/blog).