BBB sends warning about scams targeting seniors


POSTED: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 5:40am

UPDATED: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 7:09pm

Crooks will do anything to get your money or your personal information, and they are especially targeting elderly people. According to recent survey by Investor Protection Trust, one in five seniors fall victim to financial fraud.

"I think that's really bad because they are actually targeting people that can't actually defend themselves," said Andres Molina.

Molina said his own mother fell victim to a scam.

"She was targeted in a Wal-Mart and they asked her for her social security and her personal information because they were going to get her a meter for the diabetes and it was going to be free, one of those new ones," said Molina.

But she didn't get a meter. Instead, she got a bill after someone opened a bank account in the Bahamas with her information.

"They bought from a sporting goods store. They bought a jet ski. It was like a $5,000 account," said Molina.

The Better Business Bureau has released a list of other scams seniors need to be aware of.

The BBB said scammers may pose as Medicare representatives to get seniors to give them their personal or financial information.

It said scammers also like to take advantage of the fact many seniors own their homes and will send fraudulent letters on behalf of the county's assessor's office offering the homeowner to arrange a reassessment of their property for a fee.

The BBB said be aware of high pressure sales tactics and be wary of an unsolicited correspondence. Also, use secure payment methods, never send money through a wire transfer and do not share any personal information.

Molina said the elderly are too trusting.

"People can't trust people anymore," said Molina.

Other scams include:
• Door to Door Sales/Repairs: Scammers will often go door-to-door offering repair services or equipment sales.
• Funeral/Cemetery Fraud: Scammers will attend the funeral service of a stranger to take advantage of the widower or other family member, claiming the deceased had an outstanding debt with them.
• Counterfeit Prescription Drugs: Consumers can now refill prescriptions online, but an unauthorized site with the best price may send ineffective or harmful drugs.
• Telemarketing Fraud: Telemarketing scams often involve calls and email offers of free prizes, low-cost vitamins or health care products.
• Fraudulent "Anti-Aging" Products: Scammer-distributors will suggest bogus homeopathic remedies that do nothing or will use renegade labs to create versions of products which can have health consequences.
• Internet Fraud: Pop-up browser windows simulating virus-scanning software will fool victims into downloading a fake program. In some cases a virus will be downloaded allowing scammers to steal personal and financial information.
• Grandparent Scheme: Scammers will place a call to a senior posing as their grandchild or a relative in need of help or trapped in a foreign country. They will usually ask for cash to solve the problem and ask for payment through a money wiring service.
• Investment Schemes: Because many seniors find themselves planning for retirement and managing their savings, investment schemes have been a successful way for scammers to take advantage of them.

To report a fraud, contact the Better Business Bureau online at or call 915-577-0195.

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