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Top Five Senior Scams

The elderly who provide their birth dates and Social Security numbers potentially open up their entire financial histories to thieves.
The elderly who provide their birth dates and Social Security numbers potentially open up their entire financial histories to thieves.

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April 4, 2011

Here are the top five senior scams and how they work, according to The National Association of Triads, Inc. and Home Instead Senior Care:

Prizes and Sweepstakes Scams
Elderly individuals are told they've won a sweepstakes and all they need to do is send a check to cover the taxes. Or they'll receive a fake check for $5,000 and be encouraged to deposit the money and send back $2,000 to cover the taxes. By the time it's determined that these checks – which often come from overseas banks – are worthless, the elderly person has already lost his or her money. Magazine-sale scams, where seniors order magazine subscriptions that never show up, also are prevalent.

Home-Improvement Frauds
Criminals knock on an elderly person's door offering to fix the driveway, then paint it black and charge the senior $3,000. Or the elderly are asked to pay up front to have the roof fixed, never to see their alleged repairman again.

One 81-year-old woman, who was caring for her husband with Alzheimer's disease, paid a criminal $800,000 and drained her savings to have repairs done on her home.

"Phishing" Schemes
Seniors receive a call from someone claming to represent a bank or other reputable financial institution. They're warned that their financial information or credit card has been compromised and are asked to verify their bank account number or call an 800 number where they're asked for their personal financial information.

Internet Fraud
An elderly person, unfamiliar with how to use the Internet, can unwittingly give their credit card numbers to scammers.

Identity Theft
The elderly who provide their birth dates and Social Security numbers potentially open up their entire financial histories to thieves.

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