This subject has so much important information to share that I needed to extend it into a second article. The amount of scams against senior citizens in 2021 is the highest it has ever been. The internet has made it so much easier for people to cheat, lie, and steal from innocent people. There are scams out there for everything from funeral arrangements, reverse mortgages, prescription medications, sweepstakes, to something called “the grandparent scam”. These not only cause massive amounts of financial damage to senior citizens every year but they can also be intensely emotionally painful for the victims.
In my opinion one of the worst common scams out there involves funeral arrangements. There are several ways this occurs; people can receive calls about pre-arrangement of funeral plans offering to help take this burden off the family. There are times when a funeral director who is unethical may insist on an expensive casket for a cremation when a cardboard box is what is typically used. All of my own grandparents had pre-purchased burial plots, I cannot even imagine finding out they were scammed while dealing with the loss at the same time. Scammers will peruse obituaries and attend funerals, they will prey on newly widowed people and at times contact them to say there were unpaid debts left over from the deceased.
Another way many seniors become victims is a very easy and devious method called “The Grandparent Scam” and plays on their hearts. This is where a person will call a senior on the phone and when they answer the person will say something like “Hi Grandmom, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent says the name of the grandchild they sound most like the scammer is in, faking the identity of a grandchild. They will then proceed to describe some situation they got in that requires money to get them out. They may say they need help with overdue rent or car repairs and ask to send the money emphasizing “please don’t tell my parents I asked you, they would kill me.” These types may not come to huge amounts of money but the fact that scammers can pull this off with little research and no cost to them make it more common than people think.
Besides doing everything you can to prevent becoming involved in any of these scenarios, what can seniors do if somehow they have been scammed? There are several options: in Spring 2020 the US Justice Department started the National Elder Fraud Hotline 1-833-FRAUD-11, locally we have the Brevard County Sheriff Economic Crimes Division who are responsible for investigating schemes that defraud or exploit the elderly, they can be reached directly at 321-633-8140. It is a known fact that many of these crimes are not reported because people are embarrassed to admit to their family they became a victim. Please don’t let that prevent you from reporting it. Pick up the phone and call one of the provided numbers and remember don’t give out any information on the phone or internet.