More scams you may run into
Here are some more common scams you should be aware of from the National Council on Aging:
While using the Internet is a great skill at any age, the slower speed of using it among older people makes them easier targets for automated Internet scams. Pop-up browser windows simulating virus-scanning software will fool victims into either downloading a fake anti-virus program — at a substantial cost — or an actual virus that will open up whatever information is on the user’s computer to scammers.
Seniors’ unfamiliarity with the less visible aspects of browsing the web (firewalls and built-in virus protection) make them especially susceptible to such traps.
An example, a person receives email messages that appear to be from a legitimate company or institution, asking them to “update” or “verify” their personal information.
Many seniors plan for retirement and managing savings once they finish working, a number of investment schemes have been targeted at seniors looking to safeguard their cash. From pyramid schemes like Bernie Madoff’s (which counted a number of senior citizens among its victims) to fables of a Nigerian prince looking for a partner to claim inheritance money.
Homeowner/reverse mortgage scams
Scammers like to take advantage of the fact that many people own their homes. A particularly elaborate property tax scam in San Diego saw fraudsters sending personalized letters to different people apparently on behalf of the County Assessor’s Office. The letter, made to look official but displaying only public information, would identify the property’s assessed value and offer the homeowner, for a fee, of course, to arrange for a reassessment of the property’s value and therefore the tax burden associated with it.
Closely related, the reverse mortgage scam has mushroomed in recent years. With legitimate reverse mortgages increasing in frequency more than 1,300 percent between 1999 and 2008, scammers are taking advantage of this growth.
As opposed to official refinancing schemes, however, unsecured reverse mortgages can lead property owners to lose their homes when the perpetrators offer money or a free house somewhere else in exchange for the title to the property.
Sweepstakes and lottery scams
Victims are asked to deposit a check in their bank account as evidence of their acceptance of a prize, knowing that while it shows up in their account immediately, it will take a few days before the (fake) check is rejected.
During that time, the criminals will quickly collect money for supposed fees or taxes on the prize, which they pocket while the victim has the “prize money” removed from his or her account as soon as the check bounces.
The grandparent scam
Scammers will place a call to an older person and when the mark picks up, they will say something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer has established a fake identity without research.
Once “in,” the fake grandchild will usually ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram.
While the sums from such a scam are likely to be in the hundreds, the very fact that no research is needed makes this a scam that can be perpetrated over and over at very little cost.
If you suspect you’ve been the victim of a scam …
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it. You are not alone, and there are people who can help. Doing nothing could only make it worse. Keep handy the phone numbers and resources you can turn to, including the local police, your bank (if money has been taken from your accounts), and Adult Protective Services. To obtain the contact information for Adult Protective Services in your area, call the Eldercare Locator, a government sponsored national resource line, at: 1-800-677-1116, or visit the website http://www.eldercare.gov.
Oldest Carson City person?
“There is a woman, Kathleen Whear, who lives at the Mountain View Nursing Facility on Koontz Lane. She was born in May, 1910 making her 104.5 years old,” Sean Lehmann reports. Is she the champion?
Seniors have seen a lot of Christmas shows, but one they might not want to miss is at the Eldorado in Reno. Not a single standard Yuletide song (except maybe “Jingle Bells”) but a lot of very pretty girls doing some fancy high-kicks in pretty fancy costumes. And seniors get a discount to the show — a Christmas present!
Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.