5 Ways Scammers Are Going After Grandma’s Money

What's Hot

2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

America's seniors can fight back against fraud by keeping themselves educated on the sneaky ways criminals (and sometimes seniors' own family members) are going after their money. Check out some of the most common forms of elder fraud.

There are few things more shameful and disgusting than fraudsters who prey on seniors, trying to cheat them out of their life savings and hard-earned retirement money.

Unfortunately, elder fraud is an all too common occurrence these days. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA):

Financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they’re now considered “the crime of the 21st century.” Why? Because seniors are thought to have a significant amount of money sitting in their accounts.

But you’re not defenseless. If you know what to look for, you can protect yourself (and your loved ones). These are five common scams aimed at seniors:

  • Health care fraud: From aggressive salespeople pushing seniors to buy unnecessary health care products or equipment to scammers posing as Medicare representatives to trick seniors into handing over personal information, health care or health insurance-related fraud is a common way to bilk seniors. The FBI recommends that seniors keep track of their doctors’ visits and medical procedure costs, only provide insurance and personal information to people who have provided them with a service and avoid purchasing medical equipment or services from door-to-door or telephone salespeople.
  • Reverse mortgage scam: Many seniors own their homes, and reverse mortgages have increased in popularity. These factors mean that reverse mortgage fraud is on the rise, according to the FBI. “In many of the reported scams, victim seniors are offered free homes, investment opportunities, and foreclosure or refinance assistance. They are also used as straw buyers in property flipping scams,” the FBI explains. “Seniors are frequently targeted through local churches and investment seminars, as well as television, radio, billboard, and mailer advertisements.” The FBI recommends that seniors seek out their own reverse mortgage counselor, avoid signing any document they don’t understand and ignore unsolicited advertisements for reverse mortgages.
  • Telemarketing fraud: A common, and sometimes all too easy, way for fraudsters to con older Americans is via telephone. Scammers often use “contests” and “free” product offers to trick seniors into handing over credit card information or other personal information to cover supposed shipping and handling fees, The Motley Fool explains. The information can be used by the scammer or even sold to other criminals. “With no face-to-face interaction, and no paper trail, these scams are incredibly hard to trace,” the NCOA explains. The FBI says seniors can protect themselves by safeguarding their personal and payment info, not paying for products or services in advance on the phone, and researching the legitimacy of a company or charity before considering a purchase or donation.
  • “Grandchild” scam: This scam is “so simple and so devious because it uses one of older adults’ most reliable assets, their hearts,” the NCOA says. Fraudsters often phone seniors and pretend to be their grandchild, saying something like – “Hi, Grandma, do you know who this is?” – and then convince the grandma to send them money – via Western Union or MoneyGram – for a fictitious financial problem, the organization explains.
  • Obituary scam: Some fraudsters read obituaries in a newspaper, and then call the deceased person’s widow or other family members to try to collect on a fake outstanding debt. Others scammers actually go to a widow’s home with a fake cash-on-delivery package and demand immediate payment for something that they claim was ordered by the now deceased spouse, according to Bankrate. The fraudster takes the money and is long gone before the widow realizes the box is empty or full of useless garbage. “If there truly is a package that needs to be delivered, you can say, ‘I don’t have the money right now,’ or ‘I need to verify this and get back to you,'” Sandra Crasko, vice president of community services at Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services, told Bankrate. “If someone doesn’t feel right for whatever reason, take time to research it and that’s OK.”

If you or someone you know has been a victim of elder fraud, go to StopFraud.gov to report it.

According to the NCOA, although the scams described here are typically perpetrated by a stranger, 90 percent of reported elder abuse is committed by a senior’s family members, most often their own children or grandchildren.

Check out “2 Services That Protect Grandma From Money-Stealing Scams.”

Click here to find out what happened to a Canadian con man who bilked America’s seniors out of more than $20 million.

Have you or someone you know been a victim of fraud? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: 6 Tips to Donate to Charity the Smart Way

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,898 more deals!