Posted on: August 25, 2016

It appears that in today’s world, seniors are becoming targets of scams as they are perceived to be unaware of life outside of their home and family. Many seniors are often targeted by scam artists simply because of their age and the fact that they may not be “tech savvy”. Scammers will target seniors who are uncomfortable with numbers, especially when it comes to finances. They will also prey on the emotions of seniors.

The scammers use a multitude of various scams; including sweepstakes, Medicare, online and investment scams. Some even use credit card fraud.

In 2001, Joe Melomo of Austin, TX invested over $200,000 of his retirement savings into what he thought were reputable investors of precious metals. The faux investors were involved in a precious metal scheme in which over 100,000 Americans had fallen victim to. Mr. Melomo reported the crime and was called upon the US Senate to testify, however, he is now without $200,000.

Some other common scams:
Foreign Sweepstakes – person calls advising that you have won millions of dollars and a car in a sweepstakes contest in a foreign country, but you must pay fees and taxes before the money and car is released.
Letter of Lottery Winning – a letter that claims you have won the lottery and a check is included, but you must call a claim agent and pay a fee to cash the check.
Relative in Jail – a person calls claiming to be a relative in jail who needs money for bail. They may say that all you need to do is buy thousands of dollars in something such as “$40,000 in gift cards”.

There are resources available to equip yourself with to avoid and prevent these situations. You will not only protect yourself, but you will also be alerted when your identity or credit has been affected.

*Understand that you may be a target and stay in control of your emotions – scammers may try to make you feel special or evoke negative feelings of fear.

*Unlist your contact information – use a cell phone or get on the “Do Not Call” list. Removing your contact information from the general public will greatly reduce the chances that you will even be contacted. If in doubt, hang up.

*Contact the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) – The DMA is designed to control the mail delivered to you. They classify mail into categories and you can choose the type of mail you no longer wish to receive. The DMA can be contacted at (212) 768-7277 or

*Check your credit – this will help you determine if any fraudulent accounts have been created under your name. You should do this annually.

*Ask for help – AARP’s Fraud Fighter Call Center can provide detailed directions and advice if you have been victimized. The call center can be reached at (800) 646-2283.