Ep 7 ~ Scamming The Boomers

Liam Seskis on unsplash.com
Liam Seskis on unsplash.com

Many Boomers are falling prey to some elaborate and some not so elaborate scams. 2018 will not be an exception. Many Boomers are good targets for scammers as Boomers get older and our minds are not as sharp as the used to be. In this podcast we are going to uncover some of the scams that you might encounter. Financial exploitation of Seniors has been going on since money was invented and it’s not going away anytime soon.

Money scams targeting Boomers have become prevalent. Boomers are thought to have a significant amount of money sitting in their accounts. And they are dumb enough to fall for these scams.

Show Notes – Baby Boomer Podcasterguy.com Episode # 7

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These financial scams also often go unreported. They also can be very difficult to prosecute. Somtimes they’re often considered to be a “low-risk” crime to the scammers. When in fact, they can have devastating financial consequences to many Boomers and can leave them in a very vulnerable position with little time or even to the ability to recoup their financial losses.

It’s not just the wealthy Boomers who are targeted. Many low-income Boomers are also at risk of being taken advantage of causing terrible financial abuses. And it’s not always strangers who perpetrate these crimes. Over 90% of all reported elder abuse is committed by an older person’s very own family members. Many times these crimes are often committed by their very own adult children, followed by the grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Then the actual caregivers assigned to help the Boomers are very often involved in gaining finacial wins from Boomers.

If its too good to be true then it probably isThe old addage “If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t” really applies to us Boomers. As many of us age and find ourselves at a time when we are becoming more and more dependant on outside help, we become vulnerable to these crooks who want to take our money.

We need to try and rely more and more upon using our common sense. Be sure to check with others about too good to be true offers and have others help you to investigate before you turn over your hard earned cash to them. There is one rule I would like you to follow from now on. Don’t make a decisision proposed to you on the day it was offered . Spend at least one day researching the offer given. This way you can be more knowledgeable about making these financial decisions coming your way.

I can promise you one thing. People will attempt to scam you this year and it’s not a question of will it happen, it is only a question of when it’s going to happen.

Sanwal Deen on unsplash.com
Sanwal Deen on unsplash.com

Money is not going to come in the mail
The U.S. Department of Justice is seeing a spike in mass mailing fraud targeted at Boomers. Some of these scams involve personalized, sometimes “registered” letters in your mailbox that are really good at appearing to indicate you’ve won some sizable amount of money, prize or a really great vacation. Then to get this wonderful new found gift all you need to do is simply pay a small processing fee for it to be sent to you.

Boomers have lost millions of dollars in these kind of scams. Unfortunately, responding to programs such as these will often target the person for future scam mailings. If you or a friend or family member or just someone you care about is being targeted by scams like this, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

The Tax Man
The Tax Man Cometh

The Tax Man Cometh
Scammers know that taxes strike fear in the hearts of Boomers. Exploiting the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) name and function is one way that scammers have been able to get Boomers to open their wallets.

There are a couple of types of IRS scams encountered in my research.

Many of you are probably going to get fake notices that claim you owe money back to the government or the special appointed agency as a result of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). These scammers are really pretty good because the methods they use pretty much mimic exactly what our govenment does to collect these fees.

At sometime you might get an automated call from who appears to come from the IRS claiming you owe back taxes. The caller requests you pay via gift card or VISA, Mastercard. And sometimes these fake scammer IRS calls are not automated, but are actually from a live person. These calls actually appear to come from a Washington DC area code of (202). The scammers will usually try using high pressure scare tactics to get your money. Sometimes they might even threaten you, saying the police are coming to arrest you for not paying your taxes. Now this is a red flag. The Police do not arrest people for not paying their taxes. This is a scam.

Check it outSome things I think you should be aware of:

1. The IRS never initiates contact with you via phone call
2. The IRS does not use email to contact you
3. The IRS does not have a Social Media account to contact you to pay your taxes.
4. The IRS will not ever threaten to have you arrested for not paying your taxes
5. The IRS will never accept gift cards, pre-paid debit cards or even wire-transfers to pay your taxes
6. The IRS will not ever ask you for any kind of payment over the phone to pay your taxes

If you owe the IRS back taxes, you will always have the opportunity to question or appeal the amount.
You can send any suspect correspondence to phishing@irs.gov and let the FTC know.

If you get a fake IRS call, please try to get as much information you can from the caller, then hang up and report it immeadiately to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

Phony Knee Brace
Phony Knee Brace

How about that back or knee problem you are having?
In this scam you might get something in the mail saying a company has been authorized to provide you with a back or knee brace, completely free of charge. All you need to do is return a postcard with your medicare number on it and they will ship the knee or back brace to you absolutely free.

In fact some of these scams will actually send some sort of cheap velcro bandage back to the individual or victim in this case. Now that the scammers have your medicare number they then turn around and bill Medicare several thousands of dollars for this piece of garbage knee / back brace.

Medicare doesn’t send statements to you to let you know anything illegal is going on. Not sure why they don’t. If they did people would be reporting all this fraud back to the Medicare people and then they would have to do some work to investigate and we can’t have that can we.

In some cases it gets even worse. They then start billing Medicare for other services against the number you have provided them. And this goes on and on.

We are all lead to believe Medicare has strict coverage rules for its services and supplies. Now if they really did scammers wouldn’t be able to take advantage of Boomers in the way they do.

Piron Gullaume on unsplash.com
Piron Gullaume on unsplash.com

Medicare/health insurance scams
When we retire we fill out a Medicare enrollment form. Every U.S. citizen or permanent resident over age 65 qualifies for Medicare. Scammers know this, so there is rarely any need for the bad guy to research what health insurance company the people have. This is convenient and allows the scammer easily take their money. After all because of “Obamacare” in many cases, there might only be one insurance company who is authorized to offer a plan in your area.

In these types of scams, perpetrators may pose as a Medicare representative to get Boomers to give them their personal information including that valued Medicare policy number. That number is like Gold to a scammer.

In my research I have even found cases where a scammer will provide bogus services for Boomers at makeshift mobile clinics. The personal information these clinics are provided allows them to bill Medicare and pocket the money.

Drew Hayes on unsplash.com
Drew Hayes on unsplash.com

Let’s not forget about Counterfeit prescription drugs
Most commonly, counterfeit drug scams operate on the Internet, where Boomers increasingly go to find better prices on specialized medications. This scam has grown in popularity since the year 2000.

So be very careful when it comes to purchasing these drugs on line. Many times these drugs are not what they claim to be. I am not even sure you can have these internet drugs test somewhere to determine if they are the real thing or not.

The danger is that besides paying money for something that will not help a specific medical condition, Boomers may purchase unsafe substances that can inflict even more harm. This scam can be as hard on the body as it is on the wallet.

Anton Darius on unsplash.com
Anton Darius on unsplash.com

How about Funeral & Cemetery scams
In my research I found that the FBI warns about two types of funeral and cemetery fraud perpetrated on seniors.

The first approach, scammers read obituaries and call or attend the funeral service of someone they do not know at all, only to take advantage of the grieving widow or widower. In some cases the scammer claims the deceased had an outstanding debt with them. This results in the scammers extorting money from relatives to settle these fake debts.

Another tactic concerns disreputable funeral homes. There tactic is to capitalize on family members’ unfamiliarity with the considerable cost of funeral services to add unnecessary charges to the bill. In one common scam of this type, funeral directors will insist on selling a very expensive casket. This can usually be one of the most expensive parts of funeral service. It isn’t even necessary when performing a direct cremation, which can be accomplished with a cardboard casket rather than an expensive display or burial casket.

Sam Wheeler on unsplash.com
Sam Wheeler on unsplash.com

How about those fraudulent anti-aging products
Let’s face it Boomers. We are aging and it a lot of cases it isn’t very pretty. We are subjected to a society where we are bombarded with images of the young and the beautiful every day. So it’s not surprising that Boomers feel the need to try to conceal their age. Perhaps it’s a psychological thing in our minds in order to participate more fully in social circles and the workplace. Right? Let’s not kid ourselves. We need to get over the fact that we are getting older. Don’t let anyone tell you that 60 is the new 40, right?

It is in this spirit that many Boomers seek out new medications and treatments to maintain a youthful appearance.  Boomers are at risk of these low life scammers. Whether it’s fake Botox or completely bogus homeopathic remedies that do absolutely nothing, there is a lot of money in the anti-aging business.

Botox scams are just bad news. There are labs out there that produce a sub-standard Botox-like product that was never approved by the FDA. Doctors and clinics are in on this scam. This becomes particularly unsettling. These renegade labs are creating fake versions of the real thing. A bad batch of this botched up substitute can have very serious consequences to those who receive it. All this for trying to get rid of wrinkles.

Quino Al on unsplash.com
Quino Al on unsplash.com

Now let move on to Telemarketing scams
Perhaps the most common scheme is when scammers use fake telemarketing calls to prey on Boomers.  Statistics tell us Boomers make twice as many purchases over the phone than the national average. So there is this image of the lonely Boomer who has nobody to talk to. So this helps the scammer to become their new best friend over the phone. Boomers are likely more familiar with shopping over the phone. So when this new best friend comes calling they can’t wait to hand over their credit card to them. Don’t ever give out any credit card, bank information, personal information or anything like that. Never, ever over the phone.

These scams are incredibly hard for the authorities to trace, without face-to-face interaction, and no paper trail. Also, once a successful deal has been made, scammers reveal the buyer’s name to other scammers for a price. Boomers who are easy targets allow scammers to defraud the same person over and over again and again.

Rafael Rodrigues Machado on unsplash.com
Rafael Rodrigues Machado on unsplash.com

The pigeon drop
The scammer tells the Boomer that a large amount of money has been found and they need some help claiming the money. However with the Boomers help they are willing to split this large sum of money only if a “good faith” payment is made by withdrawing funds from the Boomers bank account. This scam works particularly well when a second con artist is involved. The second person could pose as a lawyer, banker, or some other trustworthy stranger.

Mahkeo on unsplash.com
Mahkeo on unsplash.com

The fake accident ploy
The scammer gets the victim to believe a close family member has been involved in a serious accident and they are calling for them from the hospital and money needs to be wire transfered in order for their loved one to get the needed medical attention. I do not know how this can be pulled off. But it happens all the time.

Cristian Newman on unsplash.com
Cristian Newman on unsplash.com

Charity scams
In this scam, money is solicited for fake charities. Many times this occurs right after a natural disaster. Once again, never give out financial information over the phone.

Mar Newhall on unsplash.com
Mar Newhall on unsplash.com

We just need to verify your account scam
In this one, someone from your Bank (the scammer) calls and says there has been some strange activity on your account and they simply need to verify some information from you to make sure they are in fact speaking to the actual authorized individual on the account. So they will ask you for the full spelling of your name, your date of birth, your address, your account number and the maiden name of your mother or something like that. In this case the scammer already knows what the Bank needs to verify your account, because they just called them and the Bank told them. So they basically call you and ask for the same information. Once they have the correct information they now call your Bank back and withdraw all your money from your Bank. By the time you find out about it, the scammers are long gone with the cash in their hands.

Nick Karvounis on unsplash.com
Nick Karvounis on unsplash.com

Internet fraud
Let’s face it, some Boomers are not familiar with using the Internet. Many times a Pop Up will alert that there is a virus on the system and you must call this 800 number to remove it. Of course in fact there isn’t a virus on the system at all. It’s just a fake Pop Up. This fools the unsuspecting Boomer into thinking they have to call the number. Then the person on the phone at the so called Microsoft Support center asks for permission to log in to your system. So he sends you a program or logs in remotely and then really incorporates a very nasty virus that causes all sorts of problems. The fake support person then asks for a credit card to fix the fake problem, in some cases, the virus actually removes the program he has infected your system with and takes your money. In other cases he doesn’t remove anything only to say the problem was more serious that he first thought and it will take a lot more money to fix the problem with your computer. And this can go on and on. Sometimes involving thousands of dollars.

If you ever see a pop up like this, reboot your computer by simply holding down the power key on your PC until it powers off. Then turn it back on. Launch the browser again and immediately close the last tab on your browser to get rid of that annoying pop-up. you might have to do this several times.

rawpixel on unsplash.com
rawpixel.com on unsplash.com

Email/phishing scams
A Boomer receives email messages that appear to be from a legitimate company or institution, asking them to “update” or “verify” their personal information. A Boomer receives emails that appear to be from the IRS about a tax refund. So they are directed to fill out a form that appears to be from the IRS giving away all of their banking information. The scammer then armed with all of this financial data removes all the money he can get from the Boomers bank account.

RawPixel on unsplash.com
RawPixel on unsplash.com

Investment schemes
Many Boomers find themselves planning for retirement and managing their savings once they finish working. Now a number of investment schemes have been targeted at Boomers looking to safeguard their cash for their retirement years. 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 to complex financial products that many economists don’t even understand, investment schemes have long been a successful way to take advantage of older people. So Boomers beware! Once again, if it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true. Don’t do it!

Sam Beasley on unsplash.com
Sam Beasley on unsplash.com

The Homeowner Reverse Mortgage scam
Scammers like to take advantage of the fact that many people above a certain age own their homes. This is a valuable asset that increases the potential dollar value of this scam.

Sometimes you might receive what appears to be an official document from the Tax Assessors office indicating the increased value of your home and that you will need to have to pay significant amount of extra money in the coming years to cover the taxes. This scam goes on to tell you if you can’t afford the taxes, that you would benefit from getting your property reassessed for a fee which would also assist with getting a reverse mortgage on your home. And it goes on from there resulting in you giving the tax assessor more money along with the phony application fee for the reverse mortgage. If you get one of these notices, be aware it didn’t come from the Tax Assessors office. Notify your bank and they will turn it over to the proper authorities for possible prosecution or at least shutting this sort of scam down.

In some cases there is also the potential for a reverse mortgage borrower (the bank) to be scammed. Scammers can take advantage of Boomers who have recently recovered equity in their homes. Those considering reverse mortgages should be aware of people like this in their lives pressuring them to obtain a reverse mortgage, or those that stand to benefit from the borrower accessing equity, such as home repair companies who approach Boomers directly.

Sweepstakes and Lottery
Sweepstakes and Lottery

Sweepstakes & Lottery scams
This is an interesting scam and is one that many are familiar with. It capitalizes on the notion that “You Have Won Some Sort Of Special Lottery” Here, scammers inform the Boomer that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes of some kind and need to make a sort of payment to unlock the lottery or sweepstake prize. Often, Boomers will actually be sent a very real authentic looking check that they can deposit in their bank account. The check looks real to the Bank and they immeadiately deposit the money into your Bank account. Now part of this scam is that you need to wire transfer some of the money from the check as a service fee to someone. You do this thinking the check is real and the Bank deposited the money. So you comply and send the wire transfer, only to find out three days later the Bank says the check didn’t clear. Now you are charged for the bounced check and you lose the money that you used to provide the wire transfer. During these three days of waiting for the check to clear, the bad guys waste not time in quickly collecting the money for the supposed fees or taxes on the prize. They then pocket this money while the Boomer has the so called “prize money” removed from his or her account as soon as the check bounces.

Matthew Bennett on unsplash.com
Matthew Bennett on unsplash.com

How About The Grandparent scam
This scam is very simple and so devious because it uses one of the Boomers most reliable assets, and that is “their hearts”.

So here is how this scam goes. A call is placed to the Boomer (Grandparent) and when they pick up the phone, they will say something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma or Grandpa, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent Boomer guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer has established a fake identity without having to do very much background research.

Once “in,” they have now established trust with the Boomer. Now the fake grandchild will usually ask for money to solve some unexpected financial situation (overdue rent, payment for car repairs, etc.), to be paid via Western Union or Money-gram. Unfortunately, Western Union or Money Gram have very relaxed checking on the identity of these thieves. The fake Grandchild also tells the real Boomer Grandparent to please don’t tell my parents because they would not be happy with me for not having the money to cover this.

Granted, this scam only involves maybe a couple of a hundred dollars. However, this scam works, and when done over and over again, can make the scammer a lot of money with very little risk of getting caught.

I’m sure many of you have been the victim of a scam. And you don’t want anyone to know about it. Please don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it. Pick someone you trust who can be understanding about what happened. Trust me you are not alone, and there really are trusted people who can help you. Doing absolutley nothing could possibly make it worse. This sort of thing can affect your mental health and we just can’t have that.

Keep handy phone numbers of loved one and people you trust. These people are just the resources you can turn to. Don’t forget to include the local police, your bank (if money has been taken from your accounts). You may also consider contacting an organization in your area related to Adult Protective Services. To obtain the contact information for Adult Protective Services in your area, call the government sponsored Eldercare national resource line, at: 1-800-677-1116, or visit their website at: www.eldercare.gov.

Check MarkAlso be sure to check out our 5 tips to protect yourself from scams.
1. You should never respond to open solicitations for Medicare-covered supplies/services.
2. Only provide your Medicare number to health care providers or facilities at the time you are actively seeking service.
3. Try to monitor your Medicare statements as best as you can for any claims for services or supplies billed to you which you did not receive.
4. Set up an account at MyMedicare.gov and access your claim information online anytime.
5. If you’ve been solicited by a possible Medicare scammer, first try to collect as much information on the scammer as you can and then report it by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477), or submit a complaint online to the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

I am sure some of you listening to this podcast have been the victim of some of these scams or scams I have not mentioned. I would love to hear about scams you have been a victim of. Please feel free to tell me about them in the comments section of this Podcast.

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