Elder Fraud and Scams: A Growing Problem and How to Protect Yourself

Author

Kathleen Warshawsky, BSN, RN

Posted on

Feb 27, 2023

Book/Edition

Non-Book Market , Texas - Dallas, Collin, SE Denton & Rockwall Counties

 

Elder Fraud and Scams: A Growing Problem and How to Protect Yourself

As our population ages, elder fraud and scams have become an increasingly serious problem. Seniors are often targeted by scammers because they are seen as vulnerable and more trusting, making them easy targets for fraudsters who prey on their emotions and vulnerabilities. Elder fraud and scams can lead to devastating financial consequences for seniors and their families, leaving many in dire financial straits. In this article, we will discuss the growing problem of elder fraud and scams, some statistics surrounding the issue, the most common scams, how to prevent them, and how to report fraud in Texas.

The Growing Problem of Elder Fraud and Scams

Elder fraud and scams are a growing problem, with more and more seniors falling victim to scams every year. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumers over the age of 60 filed more than 143,000 fraud reports in 2020, with a total reported loss of more than $621 million. This represents a significant increase in the number of fraud reports filed by seniors over the past decade, indicating a growing problem.

Most Common Scams Targeting Seniors

There are many different types of scams that target seniors, but some are more common than others. The following are some of the most common scams targeting seniors:

1.     Tech Support Scams: Scammers will call or email seniors claiming to be tech support personnel from a reputable company, such as Microsoft or Apple. They will then claim that there is a problem with the senior's computer and ask for remote access to fix the issue. Once they gain access to the computer, they can steal personal information or install malware.

2.     Grandparent Scams: Scammers will call seniors posing as their grandchild, claiming to be in trouble and in need of money. They will ask the senior to wire money or purchase gift cards and provide the card numbers to the scammer.

3.     Sweepstakes Scams: Scammers will call or send mail to seniors claiming that they have won a sweepstakes or lottery. They will ask for payment of taxes or fees before releasing the winnings, but the winnings never materialize.

4.     Medicare Scams: Scammers will call seniors claiming to be Medicare representatives and ask for personal information, such as their Social Security number, in order to send them a new Medicare card. They will then use this information to commit identity theft.

 

Scammers may use a sense of urgency to try to pressure the elderly into making quick decisions. They may threaten legal action or claim that they are from a government agency, such as the IRS, in an attempt to scare the elderly into giving them money or personal information.

Preventing Elder Fraud and Scams

To prevent elder fraud and scams, there are several steps that elderly individuals and their loved ones can take. 

1.     Never give out personal information over the phone or via email unless you are certain that the request is legitimate.

2.     Do not wire money or send gift cards to anyone who calls or emails you asking for money.

3.     Verify any requests for personal information or money by calling the company directly using a phone number you know is legitimate.

4.     Do not click on links or download attachments from emails or websites you do not trust.

5.     Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive.

6.     Be wary of unsolicited phone calls or emails that ask for personal information or money.

 

Overall, elder fraud and scams are a growing problem that is impacting thousands of elderly individuals across the country. By educating oneself about the different types of scams and taking steps to prevent them, elderly individuals and their loved ones can protect themselves from becoming victims. Reporting scams to the appropriate authorities is an important step in preventing further fraud and holding scammers accountable for their actions.

 

Elder fraud and scams are a growing problem, and seniors need to take steps to protect themselves.

 

 

Reporting Elder Fraud and Scams in Texas

 

If an elderly individual believes that they have been the victim of a scam, it is important to report it immediately. In Texas, individuals can report fraud or scams to the Texas Attorney General's office or to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. Reporting scams is important not only to prevent further fraud, but also to help law enforcement investigate and bring scammers to justice.

Here are the steps to report elder fraud and scams in Texas:

1.     Contact local law enforcement: If you suspect that an elder is being scammed or defrauded, the first step is to call the local police department or sheriff's office. You can also call 911 if the situation is an emergency. The police will take your report and investigate the matter.

 

2.     Contact Adult Protective Services (APS): If the elder is a vulnerable adult or has a disability, you can contact APS to report the fraud or scam. APS is a state agency that investigates reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults. You can contact the Texas Adult Protective Services (APS) Central Intake by phone at 1-800-252-5400 or online at https://www.txabusehotline.org/Login/Default.aspx.

 

3.     Contact the Texas Attorney General's office: If the scam or fraud involves a business or company, you can contact the Texas Attorney General's office. The office has a Consumer Protection Division that investigates consumer complaints and takes legal action against businesses that engage in fraudulent practices. You can file a complaint online at the Attorney General's website. Texas Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division by phone at 1-800-621-0508 or online at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection/file-consumer-complaint.

 

4.     Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The FTC is a federal agency that investigates consumer fraud and identity theft. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report fraud and scams by phone at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or online at https://www.ftc.gov/complaint.

 

5.     Contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB): If the fraud or scam involves a business, you can also contact the BBB. The BBB collects complaints about businesses and works with them to resolve consumer issues. You can file a complaint online at the BBB's website.

 

 

It's important to note that reporting elder fraud and scams can help prevent others from becoming victims. If you suspect that someone you know is being scammed or defrauded, encourage them to report it as soon as possible.

 

Additional Resources to Prevent or Address Elder Abuse in the Greater Dallas – DFW Area

 

Elder Financial Safety Center

The Senior Source

Adult Protective Services

Texas Attorney General

AARP

McNair Dallas Law

teleCalm

 

 

Author: Kathleen Warshawsky, BSN, RN | Publisher Seniors Blue Book Greater Dallas | https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathleenwbsnrn/

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