COPY-Senior Scam Warnings - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

COPY-Senior Scam Warnings

MADISON (WKOW)--Two senior care groups have developed the following list of five senior scams to beware of and advice to protect against those scams:

Prizes and sweepstakes scams.  Seniors are told they've won a sweepstakes and all they need to do is send a check to cover the taxes.  Or, they receive a fake check for $5,000 and are encouraged to deposit the money and send back $2,000 to cover the taxes.  By the time it's determined that these checks, which often come from an overseas bank, are worthless, the senior has lost his or her money.  Magazine sale scams, where seniors order magazine subscriptions that never show up, also are prevalent.

Home improvement frauds.  Criminals will knock on a senior's door offering to fix their driveway, then paint it black and charge the senior $3,000.  Or seniors are asked to pay up front to have their roof fixed never to see their alleged repairman again.  One 81-year-old woman who was caring for her husband with Alzheimer's disease paid a criminal $800,000 and drained her savings to have repairs done on her home, according to the National Association of Triads, Inc.

Phishing schemes.  Seniors receive a call from someone claming to represent a bank or other reputable financial institution.  They're warned that their financial information or credit card has been compromised and are asked to verify their bank account number or call an 800 number where they're asked for their personal financial information.

Internet fraud.  Seniors, unfamiliar with how to use the Internet, can unwittingly give their credit card number to a scammer. 

Identity theft.  Seniors who give up their birth date and Social Security number can open up their entire financial history to a thief.

What You Can Do To Protect Seniors:  

1.  Watch for unusual activity.  Seniors who are scammed may be embarrassed and try to hide what happened.  Watch for changes in their lifestyle as well as any other unusual financial or business activity.

2.  Be on guard for individuals who have befriended your loved one.  Lonely or isolated seniors may be vulnerable to con criminals who befriend them and provide them with companionship.  Ask to talk to your parent's new friend to find out more about him or her.  A thief won't stick around long to chat. 

3.  Investigate organizations looking for money.  Often seniors want to donate to organizations and other worthy causes.  Help your loved ones check those out by requesting written information on the organization and reviewing that thoroughly.  Or contact the Better Business Bureau.

4.  Assist seniors with their finances.  If a senior can no longer handle his or her finances, encourage your loved one to put a plan in place that can help ensure bills are paid and his or her assets are protected.  That plan may include your senior designating a financial power of attorney.

5.  Destroy information that could be compromised.  Make sure your senior shreds all financial information and credit card offers before discarding them in the trash.

6.  Seek out a second set of eyes.  If you live a distance from your loved one or can't always be there, help your senior build a support network.  This can include neighbors, friends, trusted church members or professional caregivers.

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