Every year, over two million elderly people are subjected to elder fraud. Kevin Canterbury acknowledges that, in Arizona and other states with high elderly populations, elderly individuals can be extremely vulnerable to such fraud attempts. Reasonings for this include that elderly people are more likely to be trusting, may have decreased cognition, and often have retirement accounts, pensions, and money to spare. Kevin Canterbury realizes that the easiest way to prevent elder scams and the damages that they can cause to a family is to ensure that people have an idea of how these fraud attempts work. Here, Kevin Canterbury discusses some of the most common elder scams seen in Arizona.
Medicare and Social Security
In elder scam attempts that involve Medicare, the scammer poses as a Medicare representative to gain access to the individual’s personal information such as Medicare identification number or social security number. From there, the scammer can use the information to bill Medicare for fraudulent services and pocket the money from the transaction. Scammers may also use the opportunity to access bank account information directly and take money from the account. One of the easiest ways to thwart these scam attempts is by knowing certain pieces of information about Medicare and Social Security. For example, neither entity will ever call an individual attempting to sell them on a service. Also, neither entity will call you directly unless you have already contacted them first. When in doubt, always hang up and call the service directly.
Catfishing (Grandparenting and Sweetheart Scams)
In a catfishing scam, someone steals money from a person that they have “met” online while pretending to be someone else. Seniors often turn to online services and social media for connections and may lack the savviness to determine if these people are truly their friends or have ulterior motives. In a sweetheart scam, the scammer poses as a love interest to form a relationship with the victim. After some correspondence, these scammers will eventually ask for money. Grandparent scams are similar in that the scammer fakes a connection with an elderly person for money, instead by posing as a grandchild or younger relative. Catfishing scams are particularly dangerous because they can cost an elderly person thousands of dollars. Kevin Canterbury of Arizona acknowledges that, on top of that, it can be difficult to get the money back even if it is eventually determined that the person is fake. To prevent these scams, never send money to people online. It can also be helpful to vet your online relationship and know some of the common signs of fake online profiles.
Telemarketing and Phishing
In both telemarketing and phishing scams, scammers attempt to gain access to personal information that they can later use for financial gain. This includes information such as one’s address, name, birthdate, and accounting information. In telemarketing scams, calls are used to being the fraud, which can be identity theft, lottery scams, or credit card fraud. In some instances of elder fraud using telemarketing, scammers sell seniors goods or services that either never arrive or are obviously not worth what the person paid. Phishing scams are when the scam uses fake emails, calls, or texts to steal personal information. For example, a common phishing scam involves sending an elderly person an email that claims to be from a person’s bank or investment account saying that they need to update their information. In reality, this is a scheme to get the person to send the information needed to the scammer to initiate identity theft. Telemarketing and phishing scams notably increased in popularity during the pandemic, when many of us were called by agencies for vaccines and polling research. To thwart these attempts, Kevin Canterbury of Arizona recommends avoiding sharing personal information with individuals that are not verified professionals. If you are ever in doubt, hang up and call the organization directly.