Each year, many elderly people are victimized by scammers and frauds. Some of these frauds, such as those perpetrated by family members or financial professionals, are difficult to prevent or predict and often require elder law professionals to properly prevent or respond to. Others, such as phone or email scams, may be easier to identify and stop in their tracks. Aging individuals and their families can take steps to protect themselves from being victimized by learning how to spot some of the more common scams perpetrated in Florida and across the country.
A person’s home is often his or her most valuable asset, to it’s easy to see why it is be at the center of many scams targeting elderly people. One example is a “mortgage scam,” where an individual with ill intent will pretend to be a property assessor to get access to the home. The “home repair scam” is another, where a criminal will pretend to be an inspector or repair professional and diagnose a home with expensive issues, selling overpriced so-called solutions to the victim.
Pretending to be someone else over the phone or email is at the root of many scams. Scammers could pretend to be a grandchild, and request money to be bailed out from jail or to get home from a foreign country. Or, they could pose as a person with authority, such as a bank employee or Medicare representative. This is often a tactic used to have people divulge personal information, such as their Social Security number, or to simply send money.
Talking openly about the risk of such scams with loved ones is a good idea. Family members can also speak to the person’s bank and block unsolicited calls and mail to lower the odds of a scammer getting through. Another good idea is to speak with a Florida elder law attorney, who can help advise an individual and their loved ones about things like asset protection, long-term planning, and how to protect oneself from scams both from strangers and those closer to home.