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Q: How can senior citizens protect themselves from scams?

Posted August 14, 2013 in Advice Column

A: Sadly, criminals often prey on senior citizens. The number of scams in the marketplace is evidence that they will try varied approaches, often with success. Mail, email and phone scams, magazine hoaxes and lottery ploys are among the most popular. Fake charities are also popular. This type of scam may involve a call from a charity that tells you they are supporting a reputable organization and asks you to make a donation. What they don’t tell you is that they are not authorized to be fundraising for that organization. While as little as 3 percent of your donation may go to that organization, 97 percent may stay in their pocket. Health care fraud is also a growing “industry,” particularly in the U.S. Scammers misuse a medical card. Scammers can find out a senior is diabetic, for instance, call him or her up and say, “Give us your Medicare card number, and we can send your supplies through the mail.” Or they can obtain free treatment by assuming that older adult’s identity.

Scams often are geared to older adults with the intent to defraud them of money and even property. However, these scam artists often will stay away from older adults who have a support network. Make your presence visible in your senior loved one’s life. Be safe.

Information provided by Jill Scott, Administrator, Windsor Manor Assisted Living, 1401 Wall St., Webster City, 515-832-1188.

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