The month of May is National Older Americans Month. Older Americans Month was created in 1983 by President Jimmy Carter to honor our nation’s seniors. This was a second designation for this month which President Kennedy had previously designated as National Senior Citizens Month during his presidency. Today, “Older Americans” is used to describe the generation of Americans who are 60 years of age or older.
Unfortunately, as a generation, Older Americans are becoming a popular target of scam artists and criminals. It is believed, often incorrectly, that seniors of this generation are more gullible to scams. Scammers spend a significant amount of time developing ways to gain access to seniors’ personal data, private information, income, and assets. It is believed by many scammers that seniors are more trusting of mailed communication and phone communication, and overall are less likely to be familiar with technological threats.
Many of our clients and their loved ones have asked us how they can be better prepared to prevent scammers from targeting them. While there may be no prevention for actual targeting, the more we know about the scams that are out there, the better we can protect ourselves. Let us share with you, several of the trending scams impacting Older Americans right now.
1. The jury duty scam. Many scammers have started to target seniors through the mail using a jury duty notice. In this notice, the senior is notified that he or she must report for jury duty. There is a caveat, however, that if the senior is willing to call a number and perhaps pay a nominal amount of money there will be no jury duty required. At this time, there is no way to avoid jury duty by paying money. Should you receive such a scam, do not respond. Instead, call your local courthouse to determine if you were selected for jury duty.
2. The hurricane insurance scam. Even though hurricane season is over, there are a number of scammers who are still trying to use hurricanes to obtain money from seniors. Through the hurricane insurance scam, the scammer or scam company tries to elicit money from the senior by promising to protect him or her during the upcoming hurricane season. While hurricane insurance may be something that you want to purchase, research the company first and make sure you purchase this insurance from a reputable company.
3.The grandparent scam. The grandparent scam continues to be one of the most prevalent scams impacting seniors. In this scam, a young person who sounds as if he or she could be a grandchild calls the senior with the intent to emotionally manipulate him or her into sending money. The scammer will call at an unusual time, such as very late at night, in hopes of catching the senior at a time he or she could be prone to confusion. Although it is incredibly difficult to withstand this type of emotional manipulation, do not give in. Instead, ask for the phone number where your grandchild can be reached, hang up the phone and reach out to the parents of your grandchild for further clarification.
These are just a few of the scams currently targeting Older Americans. If you know of a scam that we have not shared, please do not hesitate to let us know. If you have questions on this issue or any other elder law issue, do not hesitate to contact our office so we can help you.