Beware of Frauds That Target Senior Citizens

Senior citizens are very likely to have a "nest egg," to have good credit and to own a home. All of these things make them very attractive to con artists. People who grew up in the 1930s through 1950s were raised to be trusting; con artists know this and take advantage of it.

Older Americans are less likely than others to report fraud because they are either too ashamed, don't know where to report it or don't even realize that they have been scammed.

When they do report the crime, they often are not seen as a good witness due to the effects of memory and age. In addition, the realization that they are a victim may take weeks or even months, which compounds the difficulty.

Scammers use things such as drugs, funeral expenses and ant-aging products to target seniors, but there are things that seniors can do to avoid them:

Avoiding Prescription Drug Frauds

  • Examine drugs for appearance. Look at the packaging and lot numbers of the drugs, and verify this information when possible.
  • Consult a doctor or pharmacist if the drug looks suspicious.
  • Tell a doctor or pharmacist if the medication causes side effects.
  • Be careful when buying drugs online. Do not buy from an unlicensed website or those who sell medication without a prescription. Only buy from sites with a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site seal of approval.
  • Watch out for any cost reductions or other "special deals," as these may signal a counterfeit product.

     Avoiding Funeral and Cemetery Fraud

    • Take time to shop around before purchasing a cemetery plot or funeral package. Take a friend who can offer perspective when making a difficult decision like this. Funeral homes must provide a general price list in writing or over the phone.
    • Do research before caskets before buying one, and understand that they are not required for a cremation.
    • Understand the difference between fees at a funeral home. Some are for professional services, others are for additional services.
    • Keep in mind that embalming rules are set by the state, and in the case of a direct cremation, embalming is not required.
    • Read any purchasing agreement and contracts before signing, and then make sure that all of these requirements are in writing.
    • Make sure you understand when and how a contract can be cancelled, and any refund information, as well as your options for transferring the contract to another funeral home.
    • Before you prepay, make sure that you are well-informed. When you make a plan, share your wishes with your loved ones.
    • Do not allow yourself to be pressured into any purchase, and don't commit funds or sign contracts until you are sure that you are making the right choice.

    Avoiding Anti-Aging Product Fraud

    • If a deal sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Use extra caution with products that are "Breakthroughs" or "Secret Formulas."
    • Ask questions about products and find out exactly what the product claims.
    • Research a product before you buy it. Don't be afraid to take some time to contact the Better Business Bureau to find out if other consumers have had issues with the product.
    • Use caution with products that claim to cure a variety of illnesses that do not appear to be related, particularly if they are serious ones.
    • Be aware that celebrity endorsements or testimonials are often misleading.
    • Be careful of any product that is marketed as having no side effects.
    • Question any product that advertises visits to a doctor are unnecessary.

    Always consult your doctor before taking any nutritional or dietary supplement.