Scams against seniors are on the rise. Owning your own home, having money in the bank and good credit puts you at risk. But don’t panic. The secret to making yourself as scam-proof as possible is knowing how to out-trick the trickster.
Here are tips.
• Are you considering a reverse mortgage? Close the door on the door-to-door salesperson who wants to con you into signing over the deed to your home. Talk to a lawyer or someone you trust at your bank before committing to any real estate contract.
• If you receive an email, text, or phone call from a relative or friend asking you to wire money because they’re in dire trouble, the general rule is delete, delete, and hang up. Not sure if the message is really from your son, daughter or grandchild? Do a call-back. That is, call your relative—or someone who knows the whereabouts of that relative—and ask if the request is legit.
• There’s a message on your voice mail. The caller claims to be from Medicare, and says a refund check is waiting for you, but personal information is needed. Your response: Silence. Never call back. Medicare doesn’t call about refunds. Also ignore offers of free supplies and medical equipment.
• A message pops up on your computer screen warning about a virus infection, and offering a solution if you “click here” and pay a fee. Forget about downloading it—or any other “scareware” program to fix your pc. Use known anti-virus providers, either free or paid.
• You’re at a regular group or association meeting and someone who has recently joined mentions a great money-making idea, urges you to invest immediately, and guarantees a quick profit. Hold on! If the deal is good today, it will be good tomorrow. Use the delay to call your accountant or financial advisor, and to research “affinity fraud” at the web site of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or a state securities regulator.