It’s a harsh reality in today’s world that seniors become prey of the ill-intentioned. Because they are often perceived as unaware of life outside their home and family, many seniors often become targets for various scams. While anyone can fall victim to these crimes, women over the age of 80 are twice as likely to fall prey to these crimes as their male counterparts.
These scammers are tricky and use a multitude of various scams including sweepstakes scam, Medicare scams, credit card fraud, online scams, and investment schemes.
However, there are several ways that you can equip yourself with the right information to avoid situations such as these. Fraud protection has become a hot button issue in recent years. Following some basic tips and guidelines, seniors can avoid situations like Joe Melomo of Austin, Texas experienced.
A Money-Making Scheme That Became a Money-Taking Scam
In 2001, Melomo invested his hard earned money into a precious metal scheme. After connecting with what he thought were reputable investors, Melomo gave these faux investors over $200,000 of his retirement savings. Unlike many seniors who do not report the crime committed against them, Melomo reported the crime. He was later called upon by the US Senate to testify about his experience. The US Senate discovered that over 100,000 Americans had fallen victim to this scheme. Now, with $200,000 of his retirement savings gone, Melomo must re-examine his funds and determine how he will pay for the latter years of his life.
By following a few basic steps, you can avoid situations like Melomo. Below are just a few steps you can take to protect yourself from predators looking for victims.
These tips will not only protect yourself, but also help you to be alerted when you identity or credit has been effected.
- Unlist Your Contact Information: Scammers must first have your contact information in order to proposition you with a scam or scheme. By removing your contact information you greatly reduce your risk of even being contacted.
- Contact the Direct Marketing Association: This group is designed to control the mail delivered to your mailbox. The DMA classifies direct mail into categories such as credit offers, catalogs, and magazine offers. By contacting the DMA you can choose the type of mail you no longer wish to receive, reducing the contact from potentials scammers. The DMA can be contacted at (212)768.7277 or you can visit their website at https://dmachoice.thedma.org/index.php.
- Check Your Credit: Checking your credit will help you determine if any fraudulent accounts have been created in your name. This should be done annually in order to catch any discrepancies on your credit report as soon as possible.
- Ask for Help: AARP’s Fraud Fighter Call Center is a great resource for you seniors who are concerned about fraud protection. The call center can provide detailed directions and advice if you have been victimized. The call center can be reach at 1(800)646.2283.
While scams against seniors can be an unthinkable act, it happens more often than we would like. However, being alert and aware can help reduce your risk of falling victim to these crimes.
Have you or a loved one ever been the victim of a scam? What happened? What were you able to do to recover any losses? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.