FBI's "For the Family" section provides tips
on how you can protect you and your family from fraud.
Senior Citizens especially should be aware of fraud
should Senior Citizens be concerned?
has been the experience of the FBI that the elderly
are targeted for fraud for several reasons:
Older American citizens are most likely to have a "nest
egg," own their home and/or have excellent credit
all of which the con-man will try to tap into. The
fraudster will focus his/her efforts on the segment
of the population most likely to be in a financial
position to buy something.
Individuals who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and
1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting.
Two very important and positive personality traits,
except when it comes to dealing with a con-man. The
con-man will exploit these traits knowing that it
is difficult or impossible for these individuals
to say "no" or just hang up the phone.
Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud
because they don't know who to report it to, are
too ashamed at having been scammed, or do not know
they have been scammed. In some cases, an elderly
victim may not report the crime because he or she
is concerned that relatives may come to the conclusion
that the victim no longer has the mental capacity
to take care of his or her own financial affairs.
When an elderly victim does report the crime, they
often make poor witnesses. The con-man knows the
effects of age on memory and he/she is counting on
the fact that the elderly victim will not be able
to supply enough detailed information to investigators
such as: How many times did the fraudster call? What
time of day did he/she call? Did he provide a call
back number or address? Was it always the same person?
Did you meet in person? What did the fraudster look
like? Did he/she have any recognizable accent? Where
did you send the money? What did you receive if anything
and how was it delivered? What promises were made
and when? Did you keep any notes of your conversations?
victims' realization that they have been victimized
may take weeks or, more likely, months after contact
with the con-man. This extended time frame will test
the memory of almost anyone.
Lastly, when it comes to products that promise increased
cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning,
anti-cancer properties and so on, older Americans
make up the segment of the population most concerned
about these issues. In a country where new cures
and vaccinations for old diseases have given every
American hope for a long and fruitful life, it is
not so unbelievable that the products offered by
these con-men can do what they say they can do.
to Look For and How to Protect Yourself and Your
Medical Equipment Fraud:
manufacturers offer "free" products
to individuals. Insurers are
then charged for products that
were not needed and/or
may not have been delivered.
and sometimes fake tests are given to individuals at
health clubs, retirement homes, or shopping malls and
to insurance companies or Medicare.
or providers bill insurers for services never rendered
bills or submitting fake ones.
fraud can take the form of any of the health insurance
frauds described above.
Senior citizens are
schemes, especially by medical equipment manufacturers who offer
seniors free medical products in exchange for their Medicare
a physician has to sign a form certifying that equipment
or testing is needed before
Medicare pays for it, con-artists fake signatures or bribe corrupt
doctors to sign the forms. Once a signature is in place,
the manufacturers bill
Medicare for merchandise or service that was not needed or
was not ordered.
Tips to Avoiding Health Insurance Frauds
sign blank insurance claim forms.
give blanket authorization to a medical provider
to bill for services rendered.
your medical providers what they will charge and
what you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket.
review your insurer's explanation of the benefits
statement. Call your insurer and provider if you
not do business with door-to-door or telephone
salespeople who tell you that services of medical
equipment are free.
your insurance/Medicare identification only to
those who have provided you with medical services.
accurate records of all health care appointments.
if your physician ordered equipment for you.
Tips to Avoiding Counterfeit Prescription Drugs
mindful of appearance. Closely examine the packaging
and lot numbers of prescription drugs and be alert
of any changes from one prescription to the next.
your pharmacist or physician if your prescription
drug looks suspicious.
your pharmacist and physician immediately if your
medication causes adverse side effects or if your
condition does not improve.
caution when purchasing drugs on the Internet.
Do not purchase medications from unlicensed online
distributors or those who sell medications without
a prescription. Reputable online pharmacies will
have a seal of approval called the Verified Internet
Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS), provided by the
Association of Boards of Pharmacy in the United
promotions or cost reductions and other "special
deals" may be associated with counterfeit
and Cemetery Fraud
Tips to Avoiding Funeral and Cemetery Fraud
an informed consumer. Take time to call and shop
around before making a purchase. Take a friend
with you that may offer some perspective to help
make difficult decisions. Funeral homes are required
to provide detailed price lists over the phone
or in writing. Ask if their lower priced items
are included on their price list.
informed about caskets before you buy one. It is
a myth that funeral providers can determine how
long a casket will preserve a body.
funeral home service fees when shopping for products
elsewhere. Some of these charges are prohibited
by the Federal Trade Commission.
should know that embalming is not legally required
and that a casket is not needed for direct cremations.
not be pressured by high-priced pitches from funeral
all proposed plans and purchases to be put in writing.
to carefully read contracts and purchasing agreements
before signing. Find out if agreements you sign
can be voided, taken back or transferred to other
you consider prepaying, make sure you are well-informed.
When you do make a plan for yourself, share your
specific wishes with those close to you.
Fraudulent "Anti-Aging" Products
Tips to Avoiding Fraudulent "Anti-Aging" Products
it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Watch
out for "Secret Formulas" or "Breakthroughs."
be afraid to ask questions about the product. Find
out exactly what it should do for you and what
it should not.
a product thoroughly before buying it. Call the
Better Business Bureau to find out if other people
have complained about the product.
wary of products that purport to cure a wide variety
of illnesses (particularly serious ones) that don't
appear to be related.
and/or celebrity endorsements are often misleading.
very careful of products that are marketed as having
no side effects.
that are advertised as making visits to a physician
unnecessary should be questioned.
consult your doctor before taking any dietary or
you're age 60 or older, you may be a special target
for people who sell bogus products and services by
phone. Older women living alone are special targets
of these scam artists. Telemarketing scams often involve
offers of prizes, low-cost vitamins and health care
products, and travel offers.
are warning signs to these scams, including promises
of "free" or "low cost" vacations
and get rich quick schemes. If you hear these--or similar--"lines" from
a telephone salesperson, just say "no thank you," and
hang up the phone:
must act 'now' or the offer won't be
won a 'free' gift, vacation, or prize." But
you have to pay for "postage and handling" or
must send money, give a credit card or bank
account number, or have a check picked up by
courier." You may hear this before
you have had a chance to consider the
don't need to check out the company with anyone." The
callers say you do not need to speak
to anyone including your family, lawyer,
local Better Business Bureau, or consumer
don't need any written information
about their company or their references."
can't afford to miss this 'high-profit,
if you hear the lines above, or similar "lines" from
a telephone salesperson, just say "no
thank you," and hang up the phone:
Tips to Avoiding Telemarketing Fraud:
very difficult to get your money back if you've been
cheated over the phone. Before you buy anything by
buy from an unfamiliar company. Legitimate businesses
understand that you want more information about their
company and are happy to comply.
ask for and wait until you receive written material
about any offer or charity. If you get brochures
about costly investments, ask someone whose financial
advice you trust to review them. But, unfortunately,
beware -- not everything written down is true.
check out unfamiliar companies with your local consumer
protection agency, Better Business Bureau, state
Attorney General, the National Fraud Information
Center, or other watchdog groups. Unfortunately,
not all bad businesses can be identified through
a salesperson's name, business identity, telephone
number, street address, mailing address, and business
license number before you transact business. Some
con artists give out false names, telephone numbers,
addresses, and business license numbers. Verify
the accuracy of these items.
you give money to a charity or make an investment,
find out what percentage of the money is paid in
commissions and what percentage actually goes to
the charity or investment.
you send money, ask yourself a simple question. "What
guarantee do I really have that this solicitor
will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?"
must not be asked to pay in advance for services.
Pay services only after they are delivered.
con artists will send a messenger to your home to
pick up money, claiming it is part of their service
to you. In reality, they are taking your money without
leaving any trace of who they are or where they can
take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies
won't pressure you to make a snap decision.
pay for a "free prize." If a caller tells
you the payment is for taxes, he or she is violating
you receive your next sales pitch, decide what your
limits are -- the kinds of financial information
you will and won't give out on the telephone.
never rude to wait and think about an offer. Be sure
to talk over big investments offered by telephone
salespeople with a trusted friend, family member,
or financial advisor.
respond to an offer you don't understand thoroughly.
send money or give out personal information such
as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank
account numbers, dates of birth, or social security
numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
personal information is often brokered to telemarketers
through third parties.
you have been victimized once, be wary of persons
who call offering to help you recover your losses
for a fee paid in advance.
you have information about a fraud report it to
state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies.
As Internet use among Senior Citizens increases,
so does their chances to fall victim to Internet Fraud.
Internet Fraud includes non-delivery of items ordered
over the Internet and credit/debit card fraud. Please
visit the FBI's "Internet
Fraud" webpage for details about these crimes
and tips to protect yourself.
Senior Citizens, as they plan for retirement, may
fall victim to investment schemes. These may include
Advance Fee Schemes, Prime Bank Note Schemes, Pyramid
Schemes, and Nigerian Letter Fraud schemes. Please visit
the "Common Fraud Schemes" webpage for
more information about these crimes and tips for protection.