Posted by: BlogMaster | May 17, 2014

Financial Scams Against Seniors: Sad Story, Sadder Ending…Part 2


Please see Part 1 in last week’s blog post before reading further.

The sad story of “Bernice” – who was scammed, victimized, financially and emotional abused, and lost everything – begs several serious questions:

  • How can you avoid mail fraud scams like the fake lottery that suckered Bernice into giving up $70,000?
  • How can you protect yourself and your loved ones from other types of fraud – currently in use and in the future?

Read the following guidelines and share them with your loved ones – especially seniors who live alone:

  • Telemarketing calls are difficult to stop even if you place yourself and your cell phone on the Do Not Call Registry.
  • Never give your personal information or make donations over the telephone.
  • Never give your address when asked, because that data is passed along or sold to other fraud scams and thieves.
  • One of the most prevalent and scary scams targeting seniors today starts with a phone call telling the senior that their grandchild, child, or other family member has been kidnapped, jailed in a foreign country, or threatened with harm for debts and can only be released if the senior pays a large sum of money quickly. The scammer warns the senior not to notify the police or other family members. To convince the senior their loved one is in danger, the caller might put a person on the phone who sounds like the grandchild or child. Action to take: Call other family members immediately and your local police to see if the person (mentioned by the caller) is actually missing.
  • To minimize unwanted telemarketing calls and solicitations by phone, enroll in the National Do Not Call Registry (for landline and cell phones) by calling 1-888-382-1222.
  • Protect your financial privacy. Make sure all of your financial accounts, and your bank accounts in particular, are password-protected. Do not use your birthdate, mother’s maiden name, pet’s name, home address, or social security number as your password.  If your bank does not use a password-protect security system, we suggest you move your funds to a bank that does.
  • Unsolicited home repairs are other potentially dangerous forms of scam that can threaten your safety. If a worker comes to your door and asks to gain entry to your home – but you do not know them or you did not call them, DO NOT let them do any work in or outside your home and do not pay them any money. Call the police and 911 immediately if they harass you and refuse to leave.
  • Unofficial “government surveys” asking for your personal information are another form of scam. Important: No government agency, including Medicare, Medicaid and supplemental insurance Medicare, will ever send someone to your home to take a survey of your personal information. Even the U.S. census includes protections for individuals against fraud and scams. Do not answer questions unless you know the survey is official. Call the police and 911 immediately if they harass you and refuse to leave.
  • Funeral scams are yet another trend against seniors. The surviving spouse or a family member receives a phone call claiming that the deceased person owed the caller money. Do not pay or give the caller any personal or banking information. Call the police if this happens to you.
  • In another recent scam, callers posing as Internal Revenue agents demanded repayment of a family member’s debt and threatening jail time. They instructed the senior to purchase a Money Dot (money gram) card, as happened to my client Bernice in Part 1 of this blog. If this happens to you, call the IRS and the police, and give them the caller’s phone number [copy it from your caller ID]
  • If you use email or the internet, be aware that email fraud and “phishing” schemes fraud are rampant. Never answer or open an email from someone you do not know. Never click a ‘link’ inside an email that contains no message, even if it came from a friend, family member, or professional you know. Instead, call the person by phone to inform them their email account has been ‘hacked.’
  • Beware of a fake Google email that asks you to click a link and then requests your personal information and email address. Delete the email immediately or forward to Google security.
  • To limit junk mail, register with Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service (MPS) for a $1 fee at Or send a written request, with your name exactly as it appears on the catalog labels you receive, to: Mail Preference Service, c/o DMA, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008. The MPS remains in effect for five (5) ears, or until you place an order or request a catalog. Companies that subscribe to the MPS typically check their mailing lists against the registry a few times a year, so it may take a few months for your junk mail to stop. More DMA info: (212) 768-7277.

Bernice’s story is a sad and difficult one for her family, for the court system, and for me, as the attorney who provided the evidence to have her declared incapacitated under the law.  And, unfortunately, scams against unsuspecting seniors are a growing trend.

Be smart, be wise, be aware. Make the effort and take the time to protect yourself and your loved ones.

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