Wednesday, 15 June 2011 09:15

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. BBB is marking the occasion by calling attention to the many ways the elderly are victimized. BBB receives hundreds of phone calls each year from senior citizens who have been targeted or victimized by scammers. Some are scammed with fake lottery checks, bogus travel deals, and financial fraud. Others are bullied by door-to-door sales people.

Seniors are targeted often, because they are trusting and are afraid or embarrassed to report fraud when it occurs. The top scams against seniors include:

Identity theft. Identity theft is a serious crime that occurs when your personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. It can cost you time, money and can destroy your credit.

Telemarketing scams. Telemarketing scams often involve offers of prizes, low-cost vitamins and healthcare products, and travel offers.

Sweepstakes scams. Be careful responding to sweepstakes via mail and email. Many of them are scams.

Work-at-home scams. The ad says you can make a lot of money working from home, but if this were true, wouldn’t we all be working from home?

Internet fraud. Internet fraud includes non-delivery of items ordered over the Internet and credit and debit card fraud.

Grandparent scams. Scam artists are tricking grandparents into sending money when their “grandchild” is in trouble.

Home repair. A nice man appears at the door and offers to do repair work for a low cost. He may say he has materials left over from a job down the street. These are “fly-by-night” scam artists.

Reverse mortgages. Reverse mortgage scams steal the equity from the property of unsuspecting seniors aged 62 or older.

Charity fraud. You want to help people in need, but you also want to be sure that your donation isn’t going to a crook.

Investment schemes. Senior citizens, as they plan for retirement, may fall victim to investment scams. These may include Nigerian letter schemes or advance fee schemes.

Funeral fraud. Funeral fraud frequently occurs to uninformed customers. Pushy vendors often pressure seniors into making purchases, signing contracts, or committing funds.

Medicare scams. Medicare fraud is purposely billing Medicare for services that were never provided or received.

Anti-aging scams. Watch out for “secret formulas” or medical “breakthroughs.”

Also, all-too-frequent is financial elder abuse. Financial elder abuse occurs when seniors’ banking or credit accounts are exploited by scammers who take advantage of the vulnerabilities sometimes associated with age.

What makes the crime particularly frightening is in most cases the abuse is carried out by someone the senior knows, such as a family member, caregiver, or friend.

Unfortunately, financial elder abuse can be difficult to identify. It often takes a caring family member, friend, or caregiver to recognize that fraud has occurred. These are some signs to look for:

Belongings or property is missing.

Unusual bank account activity.

Complaints from seniors that they can suddenly not afford normal purchases.

Suspicious stories about people that normally wouldn’t be involved in personal affairs now being involved.

Unnecessary purchases (often big-ticket items).

Sudden changes to Power of Attorney or will.

Sudden interest in an investment or business opportunity.

Claims they have won a prize, lottery or vacation.

Numerous unpaid bills or bounced checks.

If you or someone you know might be a victim of elder abuse contact your local law enforcement agency or the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services at 1-800-752-6200.

Remember to call BBB at 1-800-388-2222 to report the company that committed the fraud.

For more information on scams against seniors, go to







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