As seniors it’s crucial to be aware of fraudulent activities because Senior Citizen Scams are alive and active everywhere. If you’re retired or getting close to retirement, you may have just what scammers look for – great credit, owning your home debt-free, and a substantial retirement nest egg.
These things are exactly what puts us as seniors at a high risk for scams and fraud of all types. But let’s be honest, dishonest people are out to scam anyone they can, and aren’t likely to pass you by just because you don’t have a substantial bank account.
Most seniors today came up in a much more trustworthy environment than we live in today. That alone makes many of us easy prey for people out to scam us out of what we’ve worked all our lives to enjoy.
Nevertheless, just being aware that there are dishonest people around, and knowing some popular frauds can keep you safe from financial scams.
We are going to look at a few of the most common scams perpetrated on seniors and what can be done to avoid being taken advantage of.
Contractor scams are widespread all over the US and even though it hits all age and financial groups, this fraud is most rampant among senior citizens.
Odds are that your residence will need repair at some time during your retirement, especially if you’ve lived in it for the past 25 years. And the thing is, the older we get the less apt we are to take on many home repairs ourselves.
If we don’t friends or family to take care of home repair for us, we wind up looking for outside help for even the smallest jobs.
Contractor scams happen when the contractor starts doing repairs that are unnecessary and then overcharges for the work we didn’t need to begin with.
Other common variants of contractor scams include:
- Taking payments in advance and then never completing any of the agreed upon work
- Using admittance into your residence to burglarize it
- Convincing owners to be part of fraudulent insurance claims
One important thing to remember is that reputable contractors don’t generally go knocking on doors to drum up business. So the first precaution is to have nothing to do with anyone you don’t know personally who comes to solicit your home repair business.
If your house needs some work done, it’s usually better to ask around for referrals from friends and family, or check out the contractors listed by your Better Business Bureau. Check out the contractor for complaints before consenting to have any work done. Reverse
Mortgage Fraud Scams
Reverse mortgages can be a legitimate technique to draw out equity from your home, and can be a technique. These are most commonly called home equity conversion mortgages (HECM).
HECMs are insured by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA). They were created so that people 62 years and older could easily pull the equity from their principal residence and not be burdened with monthly payments.
A problem can occur with non-HECM reverse mortgage scams; typically, a senior is used as an unsuspecting pawn in a property-flipping scheme or billed huge fees by an unscrupulous “advisor” that simply handles standard paperwork in a normal HECM loan.
If you’re interested in a reverse mortgage, your bank or a reputable mortgage broker is a good place to start. I would recommend against speaking to anyone about reverse mortgages prior to talking it over with your banker.
Investment Fraud Scams
While people of all ages are taken in by various investment frauds, seniors seem to be targeted the most with these types of frauds.
Always be skeptical and double-check with a trusted professional when it comes to your life savings.
If you are age 60 or older—and especially if you are an older woman living alone—you may be a special target of people who sell bogus products and services by telephone. FBI Common Fraud Schemes
Don’t succumb to any time pressure tactics; if it’s something that you have to decide right now, your answer right now should be “NO.”
False time limits are a common technique to get senior citizens to commit their hard-earned money to a fraud.
It probably doesn’t seem fair that anyone has to be on alert in retirement; it seems like we’ve earned the right to just relax and enjoy life. However, you must be on guard to protect your money, property, and investments.
In most instances, verifying information with third parties or simply demanding more details in writing will discourage most scam artists.
If you are taken advantage of or spot a scam being offered to you, report it immediately.
People scamming you out of your money fraudulently rely on you being intimidated and too embarrassed to report them. However the moment you notice something going down that’s seems off base is the time to get in touch with the local police department.
Hopefully the perpetrator will be stopped before he can harm anyone else.
Always remember that scam artists are usually looking for the easiest victim. They can be very persistent when they believe there is money to be made, but they’re also very quick to go away when things don’t look promising.
You might be able to retire from your profession, but you can’t retire from being careful.
Senior citizen scams are real, so keep an eye on that nest egg and don’t turn it over to anyone that you haven’t checked and double-checked.
Such vigilance will help you keep the savings you worked so hard for away from thieves, scams, and frauds.