According to the National Council on Aging, scams targeting seniors are so prolific that they’re now considered “the crime of the 21st century.” From Medicare fraud and investment schemes to counterfeit prescription drugs and funeral shakedowns, senior citizens are seen as easy marks for financial abuse. Help protect yourself and your nest egg by recognizing these three common signs of deception:
You’re given the hard sell. Listen for key phrases such as “little to no risk of loss” or “guaranteed rates of return.” If the salesperson indicates a very small window during which you can make a decision, that’s another red flag. Someone offering a legitimate financial opportunity should have no problem with you taking time to conduct additional research and ask questions so that you fully understand the investment being pitched.
You’re asked to provide personal information over the phone. Seniors are twice as likely to make purchases via telephone, making fake telemarketing calls one of the most frequent schemes. Oftentimes, these thieves impersonate officials from your bank or a government entity in order to convince you to disclose account information. Before you do anything, ask for written material about the offer and check out unfamiliar companies with the Better Business Bureau. Remember that legitimate institutions rarely ask for such information over the phone.
Your gut instinct says something’s wrong. Remember the expression, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is”? If something doesn’t sound or feel right, don’t be afraid to trust your instincts. You might think you’re being rude by saying “no” or even hanging up the telephone, but don’t let these con artists exploit your trusting nature.
Nearly 5 million older Americans lose roughly $3 billion each year to financial abuse. If you think you’re being targeted with a fraudulent offer, notify your local police or the FBI. Further, consider talking with a professional financial advisor – one legally required to put your best interests first – for additional help protecting your hard-earned savings.