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Avoiding Scams Aimed at Senior Citizens

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 4 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Scams Senior Citizens Pensions

Senior citizens are among the most targeted when it comes to scams. Every year this vulnerable section of society loses £3.5 billion to the scam merchants. Raising awareness of scams aimed at senior citizens may help to eventually eradicate the scammers.

Senior Citizens at Risk from Scammers

Around 700,000 senior citizens are scammed each year, far more than any other section of society. Senior citizens are relentlessly targeted by scammers looking for easy victims who won’t put up much of a fight. Senior citizens are not gullible but the scammers can use sophisticated techniques to make themselves appear trustworthy and reliable. Scams are not just perpetrated by pushy doorstep salespeople. Scam merchants are targeting senior citizens online.

Online Scams Aimed At Senior Citizens

Online scams come in a variety of disguises but one of the main aims is to get identity and bank details. A common online scam is the lottery or inheritance scam. This is an email sent from a company who will claim that the receiver has won a large lottery prize or inherited some money. Before they can receive their money the participant must give certain details and are usually asked to send a cheque to cover an administration fee.

This is complete scam and once the details have been handed over the participant can find their bank account drained and their identity used for fraudulent purposes.

Spotting the Online Banking Scams

Online banking scams have also become very common, and for senior citizens who are unaware of how these scams work they are very easy to fall for. The emails appear as if from actual banking establishments and will state that accounts have been suspended. Verification will be asked for in the form of identity and bank account details in order to reopen the accounts. Once these have been given it is quite easy for the scammers to drain bank accounts and sign up for credit cards and loans in the scam victim’s name.

Doorstep Scammers Who Target Senior Citizens

Doorstep salespeople do target senior citizens as there are a high number who will be at home during the day. This can take the form of ‘free’ demonstrations that will supposedly only take 10 minutes. Two hours later and the salesperson will still be there using high pressure sales techniques. These sales techniques will include the ‘limited time’ offer.

This is basically a con to get the customer to sign a contract before the sales person leaves. This is not illegal but it does mean that the customer will then have to telephone or send a letter if they wish to change their mind.

Pension Scams Aimed at People Near Retirement

There has been a rise in the number of pension scams, also known as pension liberation schemes. The scammer will claim to be able to release money from pensions before they mature through means of a legal loophole. There is no legal loophole and senior citizens can lose their lump sum and the income on retirement. Commission fees will be taken for this service and the final value of the money received will be around 30% less than the pension is actually worth.

Telephone Scams to Be Aware Of

Robocalls are one of the new breed of scams designed to make money from people simply when they answer the phone. Scammers will use software technology that will continually ring a number and then hang up when the person answers. Many people will look at the incoming call number and then redial it. Every time the number is redialled the caller is charged a certain amount of money. Telephone companies do have the ability to block these types of calls, and this service may be free of charge.

How to Spot a Financial Scam

It’s not too hard to spot scams especially if a degree of cynicism is used. Warning signs to look out for should include:

  • Companies asking for financial details over the telephone or in emails
  • Banks, even your own bank, will never telephone a customer and ask for banking details
  • Do not fall for ‘limited time’ offers from salespeople
  • Be very wary of unsolicited calls when a company contacts with a ‘fantastic’ offer
  • Avoid ‘guaranteed’ money making schemes such as pyramid schemes
  • Remember, if it looks too good to be true it usually is

Unfortunately there looks to be no decrease in the numbers of senior citizens being scammed. Very few people will actually take the time to report scam emails when they receive them. Passing on details of these scams to others may save a large number of senior citizens from losing out on their hard cash and their pensions.

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