9 Year Mortgage Warns About 10 Scams That Are Targeting Seniors
Financial scams intending to swindle seniors out of their life-long hard-earned money have been receiving a surplus of media attention because of their growing nature. 9 Year Mortgage wants to help seniors become more aware of these scams, and in turn be more protected against having money stolen from them.
This is a serious crime that has taken a seriously large jump in the amount of people affected. In 2010, one in 20 people above the age of 60 reported financial abuse of some kind, and annual losses from elderly financial fraud were up 12% from 2008.
9 Year Mortgage has information from some of the top experts’ in the field of elderly fraud on what the common scams are, and ways to feel more secure in spotting them before they happen.
Grandparent fraud. One of the most common things for con artists to prey on is the love and isolation a grandparent may feel from his or her relatives. Many times they will call an older person and whisper “Grandma?” and then whimper so that the victim will volunteer a name. When they have established this identity, they will allege to have been arrested and need bail money, or have lost their wallet in a foreign country, or something to that effect.
Investment seminars offering free lunch. These schemes mainly involve selling people on things they don’t need, such as worthless real estate, rare coins, or other unstable investments that aren’t right for people in a later point of life. 9 Year Mortgage warns that these things, including variable-rate annuities, are not appropriate for short-range goals, and merely force seniors into high fees and charges with little or no reward.
Medicare scams. When any U.S. Citizen reaches the age of 65 they become qualified for Medicare. Due to its nationwide usage, it is easier for scam artists to pursue. In some cases, people will pretend to be Medicare representatives in an attempt to steal personal information. In other cases, these criminals will provide phony services for the elderly at makeshift clinics in order to bill Medicare and take the money for themselves.
Phony sweepstakes. The phrase “You’ve just won $10,000!” promises big money, but in the scamming world, people will be asked to wire some of their own money, supposedly for insurance, shipping and handling, or upfront taxes, in order to claim the prize. 9 Year Mortgage advises that if the sweepstakes is real, there should be no pre-payment, and no fee to enter in the first place, either.
Telemarketing scams. Some of the most common calls people get and fall for are charity scams, especially after a local or national disaster, when the real calls for help are coming in heavily already. Another call that often works for the con artists is a fake credit card call. This is meant to trick people into thinking their credit card has been stolen or used in a way that has hurt their credit score. The scammer then tries to verify financial information by asking for address, social security number, and credit card number.
Uninvited home improvement. An individual or pair of crooks goes door to door peddling repairs that they allege as being needed immediately, such as roof repair. When the work is done, the home owner finds that their bill is much higher than they were estimated, and/or that the job was done extremely poorly. This type of scamming can also lead to other thievery, if the workers go inside to take a drink and steal valuables they find.
Home Loan scams. The biggest scams of this variety are loan modification schemes and forensic loan audit scams. The loan modification scammers offer to help seniors renegotiate their mortgage rates for an upfront fee, but usually take the money and do nothing in return. Forensic loan audits involve a lot of money upfront, and con artists will again, just take the money and run. We at 9 Year Mortgage want to put extra emphasis on avoiding a scam like this.
Power of attorney fraud. These plots can be the most sinister of all, because they usually involve someone close to the senior as the thief. The scheme is performed by giving someone who is untrustworthy the legal authority to manage someone’s financial matters. This is sometimes given willingly by the person, but is also sometimes done by threatening them. The untrustworthy and desperate relative will then drain the senior’s investments and bank accounts.
Knock-knock thefts. This has been a common trick for centuries, and involves simple distraction and theft. One person knocks on the door and distracts the victim with some guise they’ve taken on, while their partner vandalizes and robs the house of anything valuable.
Lover deceptions. A person, typically much younger than the victim, pretends to be romantically interested in them. They stay around long enough to win their trust and legal partnership in financial affairs. The suitor will then leave, taking the money and property with them.
9 Year Mortgage’s Tips to Prevent Elderly Financial Fraud
1. Never buy from or donate anything to solicitors. Ask to be sent something in writing before agreeing to give any of your money to someone who showed up at your door unannounced.
2. Destroy all receipts with any personal information printed on them.
3. Unless you made the very first phone call, never give out personal information over the phone.
4. Use direct deposit to avoid checks being stolen.
5. Keep your documents organized and know the basics of what they say. This way you can be sure that the documentation corresponds with what other people and representatives are telling you.
6. Never make out a check to an individual for investments. Only write them to a company or firm to make sure they are going to the right place.
7. Make sure to have connections with people in your community in order to have people to voice suspicions to, and to have the support of if you think you are about to be scammed.
8. Hire an elderly law attorney who is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. These lawyers have special training in these legal issues.
And lastly, if you suspect that you or a loved one has become a victim, call Adult Protective Services. An unreported scam can in no way be stopped, and with such scams becoming more and more common, 9 Year Mortgage wants to make sure that as many people as possible are spared the aftermath of losing savings and investments.
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