Memory loss and forgetfulness are often associated with aging and unfortunately, con artists try to take advantage of this by trying to pull scams on seniors. Seniors are an attractive population to run scams on because they are more likely to own their own homes and have good credit scores and they are often polite and trusting which make them easy targets for con artists.
There are a number of scams that seniors are the target of, including:
1. Healthcare fraud, including Medicare fraud – this includes insurers getting charged for medical equipment that wasn’t delivered to seniors, unnecessary and fake tests being performed on seniors, customers or providers billing for services that weren’t performed on seniors, counterfeit prescription drugs being given to seniors and/or companies offering free products in exchange for a seniors Medicare number.
2. Telemarketing fraud – these scams come in the form of a telephone call to a senior and often involve free prizes, cheap vacations, cheap vitamins/medications and fake charities.
3. Internet fraud – more seniors are turning to the internet; as a result their chance of becoming a victim of internet fraud increases. This can include non-delivery of items purchased on the internet and debit card fraud.
4. Investment schemes – these can include advance fee schemes, prime bank note schemes, pyramid schemes and Nigerian letter fraud schemes.
5. Grandparent scams – this involves a person calling, using a low voice saying “grandma?” in the hopes that the senior will then say the name of their grandchild. The person calling then pretends to be the grandchild and says that they have been arrested in a foreign country and that they need money wired to get bail.
6. Fake sweepstakes – these often result in letters or calls that say something like, “congratulations, you’ve won $100,000” but first, the senior must send some of their own money to pay for insurance and delivery of the prize money.
7. Reverse mortgage scams – seniors are often offered free houses, investment opportunities, and foreclosure or refinance assistance. They are then used as buyers in house flipping scams.
The key to avoid getting scammed by a con artist is to ask friends and relatives that you trust about the possible scam before agreeing to purchase something and definitely before signing anything. If the person trying to sell you the product or service gets upset because you want to think about it or discuss it with family first, it is likely a scam. And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
If you start to notice that your memory isn’t what it used to be and you’re starting to experience forgetfulness, try these activities that will help you to have a better memory. Having a better memory will help to protect you from con artists they prey on seniors.
1. Engage your brain – stimulating your brain will help you to achieve better memory and help to fend of memory loss. Doing puzzles such as crosswords or taking a new route on your way home will help to stimulate your brain cells and help to keep your brain performing optimally.
2. Get together with friends and family – maintaining your social relationships will help to minimize stress and depression. Stress and depression can both contribute to memory loss and forgetfulness.
3. Organize – having clutter can result in forgetfulness. Keep to-do lists handy and check off items as your complete them.
4. Focus on one thing at a time – distractions can lead to forgetfulness and memory loss. If you start and complete one task at a time this will help to achieve better memory.
5. Get active – physical activity increases blood flow to your muscles, including your brain, which will help to improve your memory.
6. Eat a healthy diet – make sure your diet is full of fresh fruits and veggies, lean protein and whole grains which will help to keep your brain healthy and lead to better memory. Also make sure you’re hydrated – dehydration can often result in confusion and memory loss.
7. See your doctor regularly – visiting your doctor regularly to discuss any concerns that you have about your memory will help to address any memory loss in the early stages.
As you age, it’s important to follow steps to help retain your memory and avoid scams. Unfortunately criminals prey on seniors, thinking that memory loss and forgetfulness will help them to run a successful scam on this vulnerable population. Don’t be embarrassed if you think you’ve been the victim of a scam. Be sure to call your local authorities right away because the sooner you report the scam, the better memory you’ll have of the event.