As the Canadian baby-boomers are coming into their golden years, the Scams on Seniors are on rise even here in Orangeville. This should be a time of little worry and fret, but according to Public Safety Canada over 64% of seniors have been the victim or a target in some kind of scam scheme. The sad thing is that many times it is someone in their own family that is taking advantage. Targeting seniors is on such an increase that it is now referred to as “the crime of the 21st century”. Let’s take a look at the most common forms of Scams on Seniors.
Seniors are perceived to be more financially secure and have accumulated some wealth. Many seniors own their own homes. As well seniors may not be as tech savvy as the younger generation. Many seniors still have a land line and published telephone number. Statistically speaking, many scams are done over the telephone because there is no paper trail and identity can be hidden. Seniors are twice as more likely to purchase something over the telephone than any other age group.
Scams on Seniors can be broken down into the following list:
Let’s take a look at some of these schemes.
Health Related Scams – This is when someone calls the senior and poses as a person that would be part of their health care team and require their personal health information. The person trusts this is correct and gives their private information. The information is then used to bill Medicare for services that were never actually given to the senior.
Funeral Related Scams – These ruthless scoundrels watch the obituary section of the newspaper or funeral websites and prey upon the deceased’s spouse. They call and claim the deceased has outstanding debts and threatens to take them to collections. This seems like an all-time low. When the person is not necessarily thinking straight because of grief, they are taken advantage of.
Tech/Online Scams – People of all ages are online now. Every day I receive spam emails saying I need to “update my account information” at some bank I don’t even have an account with! There are so many spam emails that I receive that look very official, yet when you look at the senders address, you realize it is not correct. I can so understand how someone would think something is legit. We have all heard of ransomeware. You need to pay to have the virus removed from your computer.
Tax/Bill Collectors – We have all got the call, even on my cell phone that the CRA is putting a warrant out for my arrest because I am in arrears in my taxes. I tell them Mike thinks they would return me in a hurry if they had to live with me! But these calls can seem very official and very convincing. We have all read about the service providers who start a job and then over bill the senior an exorbitant amount to get the job done. In our real estate careers, we have seen at least 10 seniors we feel were taken advantage of for “rentals” of furnaces or hot water tanks. They sign a lease that cannot be transferred and when they wish to sell their home, they need to pay ridiculous amounts of money to terminate the contract.
Grandparents Scam – This one is not as common but usually by someone that knows the senior. They call the person and pretend to be one of their grandchildren needing money for school, health, shelter or whatever story they make up. They have the person wire or mail them the money and usually ask to “keep it between them”.
Investment/Reverse Mortgage Scam – Everyone would like to see a little more green in your investments. These scammers try to convince the senior to “invest” in there scheme and can milk them for thousands and thousands of dollars. Reverse mortgages are very legitimate; however, this is something you would want to talk to a real professional mortgage agent or bank about not someone that randomly calls you on the telephone or sends something in the mail. These thieves can look for people who have no mortgage on their homes and specifically target them.
So as you can see there are many, many ways scammers are trying to take advantage. Many seniors do not want to tell anyone – not their families and certainly not the authorities because they feel so embarrassed and ashamed. They really need to report it. You can contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 to find out more. The 4 keys to protect yourself are being aware, being careful, do your homework and last but certainly not least ASK FOR HELP! If something seems too good to be true, well it probably is!