Tuesday, February 5, 2013

7 Ways Your Mom or Dad Could Be Scammed

By Art Maines 

One in every five Americans over 65 falls prey to scammers, creating financial devastation, shame, and heartbreak. When my beloved stepfather, Bill, was cheated out of thousands of dollars, I went on a crusade to help other families guard against this tragic crime.
Unfortunately, I discovered a myriad of ways that scammers can manipulate senior citizens.  Here are the seven most common scams to be aware of:

  • “Nigerian Scam,” also known as an “advance-fee” scam. This is where the crooks tell your elder they can earn some money and help the scammer get some money out of a bad situation in a foreign country by either sending the criminals some money, or giving the criminals their bank account number.
  • Telemarketing scams. These take on a myriad of forms, trying to sell your parent something like a time share, or telling them they won a prize, etc. 
  • Home repair rip-offs. Most of the time, the crook approaches an elderly person with a story they concocted about some dire problem with their home. 
  • Fake checks. Your senior may receive a very convincing-looking check or money orders in the mail. The instructions are usually some variation of “deposit this check in your bank and send us (the scammers) X amount of dollars. Keep the rest for helping us out.” The problem is the bank is required to give your parent access to their money from the fake check right away, but when the check turns out to be phony (usually a few days to a few weeks later) your parent is on the hook for the whole amount. 
  • Phony winnings, whether small or large. As with many scams, this can take many forms, including foreign lotteries and impostors claiming to be from a legitimate sweepstakes calling to tell your parent they’ve won a prize. A more recent version is an email or pop-up ad on the computer screen saying they’ve won a gift card. Often these are schemes to commit identity theft in addition to stealing money 
  • Magazine subscription “services.” Many people buy magazines from legitimate telemarketers. However, scammers like to target seniors for this type of scam as it is a small purchase that may not cause the senior to think much about it. Once Mom or Dad has fallen into this form of fraud, it can be extremely difficult to cancel the subscriptions. People I know or have worked with have tried repeatedly to stop them from sending their unwanted and expensive magazines. Many times it seems the only way to stop them is to report the credit or debit card used for the purchase and get a new one. Scammers may still send bills, but at least they’re not charging more and more money. You may need to get your state’s attorney general or similar official involved. According to the FTC, in some states a person is legally required to pay for a subscription once they verbally agree to it. 
  •  Care giver fraud. This type of crime is especially cruel because of the “enemy within” features present.  There are many kind, honest, and devoted caregivers in this world. Unfortunately, there are far too many of the other kind as well. Because this crime is based on the relationship between the elder and the caregiver, you are teaching them about appropriate boundaries in a relationship. This means how to have a friendly relationship with a caregiver while watching for small steps that allow the potential for financial abuse and exploitation to start.

Talk to your parents about these scams regularly so that they can be on the alert for fraudsters. Remind them that the crooks will be kind, friendly, and nice.  Elders often expect scammers to be ‘bad guys’.  The most successful scammers use warmth, interest, and pseudo-friendship to lure the senior into trusting them before ripping them off.

About Scammed 

Publisher : Love Your Life Publishing,  October  12, 2012
Category: Non-Fiction
Tour Dates: January & February, 2013
Available in: Print and ebook, 210 pages

One in Five US Seniors are Scam Victims, Learn How to Prevent and Recover from this Crime:
When author Art Maines’ beloved stepfather Bill was cheated out of thousands of dollars, Art went on a mission to ensure no other family experiences this tragic crime.
Author Art Maines

In Scammed, Art provides a three step scam prevention and recovery program, based on his training as a social worker, therapist, and his extensive research.  Suitable for seniors or children of elderly parents, Scammed will help you:
  • Understand the most common types of scams
  • Learn the psychological ploys used by scammers so that you can spot a scammer immediately
  • Create a scam prevention plan
  • Recover from a scam with your dignity intact
  • Use the resources in your community if you suspect a scam
About Art Maines 

Art Maines, LCSW, is a therapist in private practice and an expert in Elderly Fraud Recovery and Prevention.  His new book Scammed: 3 Steps to Protect Your Elder Parents and Yourself, gives in-depth information on scam prevention and recovery.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for taking part in the tour and hosting Art!


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