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Why Senior Citizens Are at Risk for Online Fraud

written by: •edited by: Brian Nelson•updated: 5/4/2009

Notice the indications of possible fraud surrounding your senior.

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    Seniors typically can be individually targeted as a group because they generally have a more trusting nature of strangers than their children who are in the peak of their earning years and they have typically have worked a lifetime to gather assets.

    If you notice any of the following, your family member may be the victim of fraud:

    • Notice an unusually large amount of phone calls from solicitors or salespersons
    • Your family member is suddenly secretive about mail, email, or phone calls
    • There are unusual or irregular payments or withdrawals from bank accounts
    • A sudden inability to pay bills for no apparent reason
    • Your family member is suddenly not attending the activity they have enjoyed for a long time
    • Notice an unusual type or a large amount of magazine subscriptions
    • Notice too many, new inexpensive items around the house
    • You may find that your family member is trusting the wrong person and complying with a request to keep the (business) friendship and activities a secret. If you suspect this, do not degrade your family member by telling them how stupid they are. At some time or other, we all fall victim to fraud, deceit, and lies. Try to make your family member realize they could be a victim of a criminal scheme and should report their “friend" to law enforcement.

    Remember:

    • not to sign blank insurance claim forms
    • not to give carte blanche authorization for billing of medical services given by a provider
    • not to do business with salespersons or companies (in person, on the phone, in email, or at websites) that insist medical equipment and supplies are free. Insurances can have $0 out-of-pocket expenses but the equipment and supplies are still being paid for by legitimate companies and are not free.

    You can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in the USA or with the RCMP in Canada if you think a senior you know is possibly a victim. For a general review about scams, read this article.