It’s a sad fact that con artists and scammers most often prey on people who can’t defend themselves. For scams being run in 2019, that means a popular target will be senior citizens.
In fact, one study has suggested that scammers take more than $30 billion a year from senior citizens. The only way to defend against these kinds of swindles is to educate yourself and to be ready to have frank conversations with your elderly loved ones.
Here are some of the most common scams that will likely be significant in 2019:
Medicare Scam—This one has been growing in popularity for years now, specifically since the passage of the Affordable Care Act as many seniors are still confused about just how their insurance has changed. The con artist will call the senior citizen and tell them that their coverage is about to be canceled because they have not paid an “annual fee.” The senior will, of course, pay the scammer to prevent losing insurance.
Sweepstakes Scam—This is another common con. A scammer will call up and say that you have won a great prize and you need to pay a fee to receive it. Of course, there is no prize, but the senior doesn’t learn that until after the fee is long gone. Another variation is that the caller will say they need your banking information so they can direct deposit your prize into the account. Once the scammers get this information, they will clear out the account.
IRS Scam—This one is particularly savvy because the caller will often have a fake phone number that lets IRS appear on the caller ID. The caller claims to be with the IRS and tells the senior they owe back taxes and the IRS will take them to court if they don’t pay. Once again, there are no back taxes owed; this is just a scam to get money.
It’s important to realize that none of these calls are legitimate.
When the IRS or Medicare wishes to communicate, they do it through the mail and you will be able to call them or visit their offices. Banking information should NEVER be given out over the phone; you should never transfer money anywhere for these types of solicitations.
If you receive a call from the IRS, for example, simply hang up and look up the number for the real IRS. Then call them directly and you will probably be told that the call was a fake. If you are called by a scammer, please report the number to the local authorities as soon as possible so that they can be investigated and prosecuted.