Many seniors are already the targets of unfortunate, dishonest financial scam attempts, and sadly this theme has only increased during the COVID-19 outbreak sweeping the world. Seniors, who may be at increased risk if infected to begin with, may also be targeted by scammers looking to take advantage of societal panic and unrest during this time.
At Cozy Retire, we want to first and foremost assure you that we are taking extreme safety and health precautions at our assisted living facility to prevent disease spread risks among our residents. We also wanted to provide a brief primer for seniors, caregivers and others involved in a senior’s life to help ensure outbreak-related scams are not fallen for – here are a few of the most common scam formats and the signs to keep and eye out for.
As many are aware, the federal government approved a stimulus package that includes a stimulus check being sent to many Americans under a given income level. If you or a senior loved one have not yet received such a check, you might be eagerly anticipating it.
Scammers attempt to seize on this anticipation by calling around and pretending to be representatives of the IRS. They claim they need bank account information to arrange for a stimulus check to be directly deposited into your account, but in reality they are looking for ways to gain your information and steal from you. In truth, the IRS would never call you and attempt to obtain payment information over the phone like this.
Another common scam both during the COVID-19 crisis and at other times is an attempt to get seniors to divulge information on their Medicare or Social Security accounts. Again, this is often done through a phone call where the scammer pretends to be a government representative – again, though, such organizations would never call you or visit your home to obtain this information. If you receive such a call, notify authorities.
Another outbreak-specific scam that’s become highly common at this time is a variety of fake treatment products. As of this writing, no treatment has been officially approved by any health organization for COVID-19 – any individual or entity claiming to have a miracle cure or vaccine is lying and attempting to get you to send them money.
Finally, scammers have taken this opportunity to put a twist on a common senior scam. This scam is one where the scammer calls a senior pretending to be their grandchild – they will even know their name and use it, saying they’re in trouble and asking for a wire transfer.
The COVID-19 version, however, involves this scammer calling and pretending to be a relative sick with the virus. They will say they need money for a hospital or medical bill. Never send money in such a circumstance – if you are unsure, consult other family members or call the individual in question directly using a contact number you had previously.
For more on avoiding senior scams related to COVID-19, or to learn about any of our assisted living or senior living programs, speak to the staff at Cozy Retire today.