By Joan Koczor
Persons of any age can become a victim of a scam. Senior citizens are the most susceptible.
Financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent they are now considered “the crime of the 21st century.” Why? Because seniors are thought to have a significant amount of money sitting in their accounts. And they are especially susceptible to perpetrators of a scam because they grew up in a more trusting time and were raised to be polite and trusting, making them easy targets for con artists.
However devastating, too often older adults are embarrassed to report the crime, causing financial scams to be considered a “low risk” crime and difficult to prosecute.
It is not always strangers who perpetrate these crimes. They can be committed by an older person’s own family members, most often their adult children. Oftentimes, they have solid credentials – social workers, lawyers and financial advisors – offering a variety of help from taking care of personal business to managing their legal and financial matters.
A few common scams to be aware of:
The Grandchild Scam is a high-pressure scam working on your fear for a loved one. You receive a home call – usually late at night – advising you your grandchild or other relative is in trouble, in an accident or arrested, and needs cash immediately. Hang up immediately and contact the relative in question. If you are unable to reach them, get your family involved. Never wire money to anyone you don’t know personally.
The Disaster Charity Scam is a phone request from someone claiming to be a representative of an organization that serves people involved in a recent disaster, usually an event that has been on the news to add credibility to their request. Unless you have verified the request with the organization in question, do not donate money over the phone. If you do, a credit card or bank information will be needed to complete the transaction. This will give the scammer unlimited access to your money.
Online prescription drug purchases also create opportunities for crooks. Scammers are prowling the Internet, enticing consumers who buy prescription drugs online. Scammers sell drugs to unsuspecting consumers and then pose as drug enforcement agents threatening to sue the victims for buying drugs illegally if they do not pay up.
The Mayo Clinic recommends buying only prescription drugs prescribed by your doctor from licensed pharmacies. If you’ve bought drugs online and are being scammed, the Drug Enforcement Administration advises you to hang up and report the incident to the DEA.
Be especially cautious as the holiday season approaches when you are most stressed. And most vulnerable. Scammers will prey on your vulnerability.
MPD (520) 568-3673
Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.
This column appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.