Fight back against criminals and con artists
Empowering Senior Citizens to Recognize Scams and Frauds and Not Fall Victim To Them
The senior citizen is a high frequency target:
Although it is sickening to imagine, there are phone rooms set up in many parts of the world all aimed at separating senior citizens from their hard-earned money, their lifetime of building safety and security for themselves.
Knowledge Is Power
It is very very hard to fall prey to a scam when you can immediately recognize it as such.
Magic tricks are illusions and slight of hand that can fool your mind over and over. However, when someone reveals the secret behind the magic, you know longer are fooled by the misdirection. The mystery is gone, and reality is present.
This site is dedicated to helping YOU, the senior citizen, know what is going on "behind the curtain". Armed with knowledge, you are no longer helpless. You are now empowered to FIGHT, and to help others do the same!
Scammers impersonate your trusted organizations:
Scams Come In All Shapes and Sizes
There is no shortage to the creativity of charlatans and con men. They seem to be limited only by the hours in a day.
The ubiquitous telemarketer. Some are legitimate and many are not. Many times these get downright aggressive, controlling, and dangerous. Think of the phone line as a theif's connection to your bank vault. Through that thin line they may extract every penny you've ever earned.
We've all heard of the infamous "Nigerian Prince" email scam. There are many other types of "you've got big money coming your way!" schemes. Learn to recognize them.
From the traveling salesmen, to the gypsy, to the "home improvement" contractor, there are countless ways criminals have devised to gain your trust and take your money and run.
Fraudsters pose as Medicare representatives and entice seniors into giving their health information such as Medicare Identification number.
Who Am I?
Let me tell you a little bit about who I am and why I have created this resource to help you defend yourself:
US Navy Veteran
Served during Operation Desert Storm
Law enforcement and financial background
Join me in a nationwide fight to bring scammers into extinction!
I consider myself a "scam proof senior". I want to help you become one too.
I've always been drawn to protecting the vulnerable.
It started when I was a kid reading comic books and watching the superhero protect innocent lives by fighting and destroying dangerous enemies of society. I made all kinds of plans to get the equipment that my friend and I would need to capture criminals, lol. If you're old enough, you'll remember all those ads in the back of the comic books to buy all kinds of apparatus for your superhero belt!
When I had a chance, in grade school, I joined the "Police Explorers" in Maitland, FL where I was born and raised.
As Explorers, we got to wear a police uniform, ride around with the officers for their entire shifts, and shadow them as they patrolled the city and "fought crime".
I joined with my best friend. We absolutely loved it. We spent as much time as we could riding with the cops, for several years.
When I joined the Navy in 1988, an urgent need for Military Police Officers came up as soon as I graduated boot camp. I jumped at the chance, especially since these positions were in ITALY!!
I served with the Sigonella Police Department, and did special assignments in anti-terrorism, and was the Commanding Officer’s Personal Protection Officer for a short time as well. I would also help protect dignitaries as they came to our island. (I was sent back to the States to go to "Anti Terrorism Driving School". Who knew there was such a thing???)
After leaving the military, I worked for several Fortune 500 companies like Charles Schwab Investments, New York Life, and Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.
I owned and operated a UFC GYM in Florida for a few years. Here we taught people how to defend themselves. How to fight back against unexpected violence. Since selling the gym I have never stopped helping people learn to defend themselves. Mostly hand-to-hand, but have shown many how to use and carry a firearm safely.
I've written over 100 articles on self defense and personal protection, but not for remuneration. I do it out of passion. My actual money making career is an independent insurance broker where I help people with their Medicare, Health Insurance, or Life Insurance. I love helping people to better their situations, so it's a great fit for me.
This site is a continuation of my passion for helping people protect themselves against evil and greed. It is what I feel I can still do to help make America a better place, to defend the vulnerable in society, and to fight for what's right. And it's all free. I'm not selling anything; I'm not asking you to buy anything or give donations. I will be happy if you just learn and put into practice. And share this site with all who you think may benefit as well. Every time a scammer wins, they grow richer, and we grow poorer. Let's change the tide. Let's put them out of business! We can do that if we refuse to ever offer ourselves as victims again!
Frequently Asked Questions
Good to know
Where do scammers operate?
Good question. Frauds are perpetrated all across our great country. Sometimes these are born right in our own soil, by fellow Americans victimizing their own citizenship.
But oftentimes these scammers live and operate in countries all over the world, with notable and sizeable operations in Africa and Asia. Nigeria and Pakistan are two hotspots for this kind of activity. Israel is also a haven for fraudulent phone rooms, particularly for financial crimes.
How do I know if a call is really from a trusted organization or if a fraud is taking place?
It is crucial that you stop and ask this question to yourself on every contact that one of these organizations makes with you. "How in fact do you know that this call is legitimate?" "How much cooperation should you give to the person on the other end of the phone call?"
Typically, a scammer will ask you for information that you already know you should not be handing over to strangers. Personal information, banking information, social security or Medicare numbers, etc.
The best thing to do when you feel uncomfortable is tell the person on the phone that you will call the organization back directly to handle the matter. Then call the company at a phone number that is publicly available, not a number that the representative on the phone gives you. When you allow them to give you a phone number, they will simply route you right back to the fraudulent organization.
Should I just stop trusting people, period?
While I wouldn't go that far, what I will say is that it is a good idea to be vigilant. Not with family and friends, but with strangers. Any strangers. The people who knock on your door. The people who show up in your email inbox. And the people who call you on the phone. If you feel particularly vulnerable in any one of these spheres, don't go it alone. Get a trusted friend or family member to help you. Outside input can be crucial in discerning fraud from truth and will sometimes cause a scammer to give up and move on.
How can I protect my elderly mom? She is not very savvy and I feel she's a particularly vulnerable target.
Number one: make sure she is on the national Do Not Call list. This should hopefully reduce the number of calls she gets.
Secondly: teach her to not answer calls from unknown numbers. There is no reason a legitimate caller cannot leave a message. Help your mother (or father) filter through these messages and be proactive in involving yourself in resolving any problems or issues.
Lastly: Educate your mother about not answering the door for unknown persons. If you can install a Ring doorbell or similar, and help her monitor the access to her house, that will go a long way towards ensuring her privacy, safety, and security.
What Do Seniors Need To Know About Medicare Fraud
Medicare Fraud is another tactic of fraudsters that seniors sometimes fall victim to. Every U.S citizen aged over 65 qualifies for Medicare, so identity theft has been on a rise with those ages. In 2019, there are 14.4 million people who were victims of identity fraud and more than one in four adults aged 55 and above have experienced this scam in its various forms.
Why are Elders the frequent targets of fraud scams?
Fraudsters take advantage to get the elderly to fall for their fraud schemes as they are often lonely and willing to listen. They perform these fraud schemes both over the telephone and door-to-door.
How Medicare Scams are perpetrated:
In this type of scam, fraudsters pose as Medicare representatives and entice seniors into giving their health information such as Medicare Identification number. They use this information to bill for Medicare services and pocket the money. They either greatly overcharge for delivered services, or worse - charge Medicare and never deliver any services at all.
Medicare Fraud can be identified in many ways. These criminals can pose as doctors, nurses, insurance experts, and other health providers that take your money without seeing or meeting with you. They might also actually be medical providers who are abusing the system under a veil of legitimacy.
Billing Errors - You have been billed for the services you have never received. With this tactic, someone is trying to commit fraud with your name, falsifying medical records and signing false documents.
Paying the Bill Over the Phone - Scammers may pressure you to pay the bill over the phone as soon as possible so that your coverage won’t drop or creating some other false urgency.
Ask for Your Personal Information - Scammers ask for your Social Security Number, bank account number, medical history, and other health or personal information over the phone. With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, scammers use this tactic with the false promise of you getting early access to the vaccines.
Tampering with Medicare ID - In 2018, new medicare cards were released to beneficiaries that no longer display Social Security numbers. To protect against fraud and identity theft, each beneficiary was assigned a Medicare ID number.
Getting a Service You Don’t Need - Some doctors pressured their patients to get services or treatments for conditions they don’t have in order to hike up the bill. If you are not sure, get a second opinion on whether you really need the service to make sure you are not being taken advantage of.
Other Medicare Fraud includes:
Billing for services in amounts higher than the services actually provided or documented in medical records
Overprescribing unnecessary medications to patients
Ordering medically unnecessary Items or services for patients
Billing Medicare for appointments that the patient fails to keep
What to do when you are a victim of Medicare Fraud?
If you are a Medicare beneficiary, you can report a fraud to CMS Hotline at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or TTY 1-877-486-2048. For Medicare providers, you may contact through this form https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/report-fraud/index.asp or call 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477).
You can also contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP).
Senior citizens have been the popular targets lately for scammers online. But why target seniors? One of the reasons is that scammers assume they have saved a lot of money in their accounts. That makes for a rich target. Secondly, they assume seniors may be slow to notice or to report it, and that can make it more difficult to trace the transactions and prosecute the crimes.
As technology has become more ubiquitous and where virtually everything is online (no pun intended), people of all ages are at risk when it comes to online scams but seniors are the most vulnerable. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, financial institutions in 2017 reported a total of $1.7 billion of actual losses and attempts of stealing older adults’ funds. Also, when a filer losses money, an average loss of $16,700 is reported per filer. That is a very hard hit even for someone who may be financially comfortable.
What are the factors that make seniors vulnerable to internet scams?
They lack computer skills - Though some seniors are tech savvy most of them are not. Often their computers are not secured. Seniors are encouraged that if they want to set up a computer’s security, they should ask a trusted family member or hire a licensed computer technician from a reputable company. Do not engage in this from someone who cold calls, even if they claim to work for Microsoft, or Google, or your own computer brand.
They have saved money - When the senior retires, it gives the scammers the mindset that the senior now has all their savings sitting in their accounts. Scammers will claim to be a family member online, or some charity collecting funds.
They are more trusting - Many seniors are more likely to believe someone or something online due to the image they portray, not recognizing it as illegitimate. Scammers create fake profiles on social media channels to build enough trust to take advantage of them. Some create fake websites to mirror your bank or other trusted institution.
Some types of internet scams that target seniors.
Malware - This happens when someone sends an email containing a malicious program. When the person opens the email, it automatically downloads the malware that allows hackers to search everything on your computer. Do not open emails from unknown sources, or if it happens, delete the downloaded file immediately.
Online Investment - This scam targets individuals promising a good return on their investment. To avoid this scam, verify that the investment is registered or ask your bank or financial advisor. If someone cold calls you about a financial investment opportunity, simply hang up. Responding to a cold call is not typically the way to put your money in an attractive opportunity, but it is often the opposite.
Online Dating/Romance - Many of the seniors fall into this scam when they are looking for companionship. Frequent victims of this scam are older women who are widowed and divorced. Scammers create fake accounts on social media and dating sites and forge an intimate connection with their target in order to scam them out of money. Never transfer money to someone you have met online. Check thoroughly the profile or tell a family member so they can perform due diligence. Even so, don’t let finances be a part of the conversation.
Sweepstakes and Lottery - A pop up banner will appear on the screen or through an email saying you won a certain amount of money. This scheme will encourage you to share your personal information so that you may be “validated” as the winner. Rest assured: you haven’t won anything. Companies don’t simply look for ways to give away their profits to random strangers. Automatically suspect that this is a fraudulent attempt. You will 99.999% of the time be correct.
Counterfeit Prescription Drugs - Scammers offer prescription drugs at a cheap price online to scam seniors. These prescription drugs are fake or never arrive at your door. This has simply been a ruse for your insurance information or credit card number.
How Seniors Can Be Safer Online?
Here are some tips that help seniors avoid getting scammed online.
Make sure the website you are visiting is secured. Look for the “https” on the url of the website. If it simply starts with “http”, but no “s”, it is not a secure site. You are vulnerable to hackers and others who may intercept your data and privacy.
Secure passwords. Create a strong and unique password for each account. Consider getting a password manager online to store all your passwords.
Avoid answering emails from unknown sources.
Consult a family member or someone you trust for any purchase made online or other financial transaction.
Lastly, it is important to report these scams to the FTC or the FBI. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed that you have been victimized. That is one way the criminal world keeps you powerless. Your reporting helps prevent other seniors from falling victims to these online scams.
One of the most common devices used by scammers against the elderly is the telephone. Telephone scams are another tactic of fraudsters to make a quick buck by hooking seniors with phony offers and urgent requests.
According to the DATCP of Wisconsin, consumers lose more than $40 billion a year to telemarketing fraud. Scammers target seniors because they are more willing to speak over the phone than younger adults, and they use this willingness to trick them into giving away their information. Knowing about these scams will help empower seniors by providing some tips and defenses to protect themselves.
What are the most common telephone scams every senior should know about?
Tech Support Scams - Senior citizens receive phone calls from someone who poses as a tech support personnel and offers a service with a senior-citizen discount but only does basic work like installing free security programs. This is not an outright scam because something was provided. It was just ridiculously overpriced, so the senior was taken advantage of. On the other hand, a different set of scammers will use engaging ads online to entice seniors to contact them for help, but their primary goal is to covertly access personal information on their computers.
Fake Prize Scam - Many seniors have fallen in this kind of scam believing they won a huge amount of money and are told to wire money for “taxes and fees”. The scam artist will claim that the prize money must have taxes paid up front in order to legally claim the proceeds. They will offer a plausible-sounding reason why the taxes can simply be deducted from the proceeds. In other scenarios, seniors may receive a call from an organization telling them that they have won a free trip and ask them their credit card information to redeem the prize. They will declare that they need this information for identity verification, or because it’s “sponsored” by a participating credit card company, or to pay taxes and fees.
Robocalls - Robocalls are mostly associated with “phishing”. Phishing is posing as a legitimate organization and eliciting personal and financial details from their victim, such as log-in credentials and passwords. Scammers deliver pre- recorded messages pretending to be their bank or credit card company to get personal information. The best defense is to hang up the call without responding and immediately add the number to the blocklist. Of course, robocalls will continue to pour in. These organizations are constantly creating new phone numbers from which to call.
The Grandparent Scam - Seniors will receive a call from someone pretending to be a grandchild who is in financial trouble, or in jail, or has broken down on the side of the road. In another scenario, the “relative” may ask for financial support as he/she is “stuck in a foreign country with no money” or in need of cash for another urgent reason. The grandparent will not even want to consider that this might be a scam as it tugs at their natural instinct of lending support.
Scammers have two key assumptions in targeting seniors: one is they are less familiar with modern technology, and the second is they are unaware of the ways that their personal information can be stolen. Providing them knowledge about these scams will be their greatest weapon against con artists. Knowledge is power. Keep informed.
Seniors are considered to have a significant amount of money sitting in their accounts. Checking accounts, savings accounts, retirement and investment accounts, you name it. And because of this, they are one of the biggest target demographics for financial scams which are rolling out at an increasing pace.
Since financial scams can be too difficult to prosecute and most of the time go unreported (adding to the difficulty of prosecution). They are considered a low-risk crime for the perpetrator, but can put older adults’ entire financial security in jeopardy where they have little time to recover and regain their losses.
Financial abuse does not only target wealthy seniors but also, surprisingly, adults with low incomes. And unfortunately, it's not always strangers who commit such crimes. A finding has shown that over 90% of all reported financial scams targeting elders are committed by the victim's own family members.
Here are some of the most common financial scams targeting seniors.
Catfishing Scams - Seniors nowadays have turned to online services and social media sites to make a friend or romantic connection but not all of the participants reciprocate good intentions. Many con artists join around the web with a single purpose: to target elderly persons who are lonely and desperate for a connection. Once that connection has been made, they then try to find the perfect ruse to ask for money.
Medicare/Health Insurance Scams - U.S seniors aged over 65 are qualified for Medicare and scammers often pose as Medicare representatives to entice seniors into giving their personal information by offering medical services, then use their personal information to bill Medicare and pocket the money.
The Grandparent Scam - Scammers will call an elderly person pretending to be a grandchild who is in financial trouble. The grandchild will then ask money for unexpected financial problems like paying for bills, rent, or car repairs. The calls often come late at night to catch the grandparent off guard and increase the sense of urgency.
Lottery/Sweepstake Scam - In this type of scam, scammers inform seniors that they’ve won the lottery or sweepstakes and in order for the money to be released seniors need to pay for taxes or other fees. They may even send a check to make it more realistic but the check will later be found to be fraudulent.
Telemarketing/Phone Scams - Scammers use fake telemarketing calls hooking seniors with phony offers and urgent requests. These can take many shapes and forms but always have one result: a senior loses money.
Elder FInancial Abuse - this financial abuse is carried out by someone a senior personally knows, such as a family member, a friend, or a caregiver. They gain control of the senior’s money and assets through various devices such as forgery, being made power of attorney, changing a will or life insurance, etc..
If you suspect that you have been a victim of these scams, don’t be afraid to report to your local police department or talk to someone you trust to help you.
While online scams that target seniors have been common these days due to the ubiquitous use of technology, traditional ways of stealing seniors’ money, like door-to-door scams, still have their place in the con artist playbook .
Fraudsters in door-to-door scams knock on seniors' doors and offer products or services with the singular goal of stealing their money. Educating seniors about these door-to-door scams helps them to be more cautious and prevent them from falling prey to these schemes.
Here are some common door-to-door scams every senior should know:
Home Repairs - Scammers pose as contractors working “in the area” and offer seniors, for example, a blacktop sealing in the driveway, siding, roofing, or home repairs. They urge seniors to decide on the spot and give a large deposit. Once they’ve gotten the money, they will often start the job but never return to carry it any further.
Home Security Inspection - Scammers offer “free home security inspections” on seniors' homes and inform them that there have been reports of burglaries in the area. They will gain the senior’s trust by offering a solution for protection. During inspection, they will search the home and look for areas where possessions are located and protected. This is a common tactic for criminals to steal their valuables. They may also set up the home for a burglary or robbery in the near future.
Door-to-Door Sales - In this scenario, scammers offer products or subscriptions in which an upfront payment is required but seniors will never receive any goods or services. They may possibly use the payment details for further erosion of a senior’s funds.
How can you protect yourself from door-to-door scams?
Never respond to services offered by unsolicited visitors.
Ask for legitimate forms of company-sponsored identification such as name badges with a picture.
Never let strangers go inside your home for the services they offered unless you call their company for verification.
Stay alert for people who demand upfront payment.
Report any suspicious activity to your loved ones and to your local law enforcement agency.
Installing a security system at the front door that can broadcast a live feed (such as Ring doorbell) and that records and stores video for later is always a good idea.
It is important for families to continuously educate their beloved seniors about not only door-to-door scams but also other types as well. The knowledge that you provide to them will help them protect themselves against these con artists and to take action when these frauds are first uncovered.
Nursing Home Abuse - Nursing Home Abuse Justice was founded to expose the widespread abuse and neglect that occurs in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Some statistics indicate that as many as 1 in 3 senior residents have been victims of nursing home abuse. Their mission is to educate seniors and their loved ones of these horrors so that they can work together to stop the cycle of abuse harming our seniors. Visit their website at https://www.nursinghomeabuse.org/