As technology has evolved, fraudulent scams that aim to take advantage of the elderly have gotten more sophisticated. Unscrupulous con artists want to destroy older people’s financial security during the most vulnerable years of their life. These scams can have a tremendous financial impact on entire families. A 2016 study by Oxford Economics determined that a whopping 83 percent of the wealth in America is held by people 50 and older. Elder financial abuse is difficult to eliminate and these crimes often go unreported. You want to be aware of the various ways that these scams are being implemented to be able to best protect your elderly loved ones. Here are 3 common financial scams aimed at senior citizens.
- The Medicare Scam. This common health insurance scam involves con artists trying to get your Medicare Number or access to your personal information so that they can commit Medicare fraud. Sometimes the fraudster will falsely claim that an older person received medical treatments that were never performed. Then the con artist will ask for financial reimbursement and keep the money. Medicare is a frequent target for health insurance scams because all Americans over the age of 65 are qualified for Medicare coverage. Here are some very important things to know about your Medicare representatives.
- Medicare does not contact people for their Medicare Number or other personal information unless explicit permission was given in advance.
- Medicare does not make sales calls to their clients.
- Any call requesting your Medicare Number for something in return is a scam.
- Medicare representatives do not visit people at their home.
- Medicare will not try to enroll new clients over the phone unless you have asked them first.
- The Funeral Home Scam. This is a scam where fraudsters will try to take advantage of grieving widows or widowers. The usual way this is done is when the scammer contacts an elderly person and tell them that there is a debt or unpaid funeral service expense that has to be paid off immediately. On occasion, funeral home staff themselves are scammers who try to take advantage of the elderly. They will do this by trying to grossly overcharge you for items or services, or sell you burial packages with features that you don’t need. You should never be asked to prepay for all funeral service expenses upfront. To avoid your loved ones falling prey to these funeral home scammers, plan ahead of time by securing funeral services through a reputable, preferably family-owned mortuary service. You can ask your estate planning attorney for recommendations.
- The Investment Scam. This is a scam where con artists pose as financial advisors in an attempt to gain the trust of the elderly and get access to their funds. The scammers can sound very professional and will offer an unfamiliar, cutting edge “shortcut” to increased wealth. Once the scammer is in control of your money, they can entirely drain your account funds, or invest in a portfolio that only benefits the advisor. The simplest way to avoid an investment scam is to hang up immediately if you receive an unsolicited call, delete unsolicited emails, and always seek expert financial advice before making an investment decision.
Educating yourself and your loved ones is just one important step to making sure that you and they don’t fall prey to scam artists. You should also meet with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to discuss some important financial and legal planning, and encourage your loved ones to do the same. This planning includes things like setting up wills and living trusts, Medi-Cal Planning, advance healthcare derivatives, and powers of attorney. A good estate planning attorney will also advise you on the federal and state inheritance tax laws, probate fees, and gift tax exemption limits.
If you are in California’s central valley, you can count on attorney Julie Richardson at Legal Pathways. She has over 17 years of experience as an attorney in helping people make tough decisions so that they feel confident and secure that their loves ones are protected during difficult times. Just contact her online to set up an appointment or give her a call at (209) 529-1085.
As a bonus for back to school time, if you have minor children and you contact us in September to book an appointment, we will give you $300 credit towards an estate planning package.