Avoiding Scams for Senior Citizens

Post by Elise Brown

Each year thousands of senior citizens fall victim to financial scams. Because they usually have retirement money set aside, they are much less likely to report fraud due to embarrassment. This is very unsettling because it is completely avoidable. We can’t be as trusting as our parents and grandparents used to be, and we all need to take responsibility and educate ourselves about these scams.

Types of Scams

  • Phishing – This term refers to a phone call or email that attempts to trick the victim into giving out important personal and/or financial information, which the thief then uses to access bank and credit card accounts.
  • Rebate Scams – The only way you can receive an economic stimulus rebate is with your 1040 tax return, but some thieves contact seniors and tell them they can receive another rebate if they give the caller their bank information or send it via email.
  • Product Scams – In this type of scam, the thief will call a home and offer fake products, free travel, or other prizes. They usually target older women, and they typically use pressure tactics to scare the victim into giving away their information.
  • Advance Fee Scams – A fake investment opportunity or a lottery win is the draw for this scam. The thief gets the victim to believe that they will receive large amounts of money with the thief’s help, and then they pretend to help the victim to gain their trust. They ask for an advance fee, usually in the amount of thousands of dollars, before the victim can get their money, and then the thief disappears.
  • Reverse Mortgage Scams – Fake banks or other lenders contact seniors with an offer for a reverse mortgage. Then they pressure the victim to convince them to sign a contract and give all of their information to the fake company.

How to Avoid Them

  • Don’t respond to advertisements you did not ask for through the mail, by phone, or through email.
  • Always read through everything you have to sign very thoroughly.
  • NEVER give out your credit card information, social security number, or any other personal or financial information over the phone unless you know for sure that you are contacting someone trustworthy.
  • Double check any emails you receive requesting financial information. Even if it looks like it is coming from a legitimate place, but scammers can easily copy logos and text to make their email seem legitimate.
  • Pay attention to your personal finances. Look over all of your bank records and other financial documents to make sure you know where your money is going.
  • Ask your bank to contact you when they see suspicious withdrawals.
  • Block the numbers of suspicious callers if possible.
  • Above all, remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it very well may be.

Elise Brown is an author who writes guest posts on the topics of business, marketing, credit cards, and personal finance.

Are you wasting time?

Does it ever feel to you that even in retirement life there is just not enough time in the day? How often have you paused for a moment to contemplate your accomplishments for the day and found yourself at a lack for anything of merit? It’s not so much that we have a lot to do but more about looking back as another sun sets to find our to-do lists have not budged. Obviously something must be “getting done” since at least 12 hours have ticked off the clock. Tell me if this sounds at all like your world:

– Do you get caught up in a frenzy of busy activity, overlooking the beauty and wonder that is right in front of your nose as you rush through your duties?

– When you look back at your day, is it just a blur with no meaningful accomplishments?

– Do you listen without hearing when your spouse talks to you caught up in other far away thoughts?

– When a friend calls on the phone and has something important to discuss, do you find yourself hurrying the conversation so you can get back to what you were doing?

– Do you scratch off one item on your to-do list only to add three more?

All of these can add to a day that is out of control as you react rather than act. Unfortunately it is often the case that we have no one to blame but ourselves.  Wasting time is too easy and as the saying goes, life is like a coin – you can spend it any way you want but you can only spend it once. And how are senior citizens typically spending their valuable time?

 

According to the Labor Department, senior citizens age 65+ spend 400 hours on average on “Other Leisure” time, which includes anything that’s not TV, socializing, relaxing and reading. Where is the rest of the time going? TV sucks up about 4.4 hours each day from the average senior citizen, more than the 3.3 hour Americans of all ages watch when the weekend rolls around.

Not only does TV dull your mind but as a sedentary event you get zero exercise (unless you are a fan of the Wii). And you can bet you are not honing your social skills as you sit zombie-like staring into the few minutes of content that are tantalizingly interspersed between hours of endless advertisements.

Just say NO!

Where can we spend “quality” time? The ‘ol clock is ticking away…

  • Give a call to your mom, dad, son, daughter, friend or acquaintance just to say hello. Out of the blue with no special occasion your thoughtfulness may just make their day. It is impossible to stay in touch with everything that goes on in the lives of those around us. But just showing an interest can go a long way.
  • Get away for the weekend or weekday since retired folks have that luxury. You can find great deals on sites like Travelzoo or in Via Magazine from AAA. A little planning ahead and you can spend for two nights what you normally pay for just one. And if there is no TV, so much the better! I find that having something on the calendar every other month or at least once a quarter keeps the excitement up as you anticipate the next adventure.
  • Donate your time – my step daughter has spent the past nine months in Haiti working with Grass Roots United to help local residents recover from the massive earthquake. You don’t have to go quite so extreme but there are local shelters and organizations that could use your help in an instant. Bob at Satisfying Retirement works with ex-convicts to help them adjust to life after prison. Bill at Adventure Retirement traveled to Peru for a year in search of volunteering opportunities. Retirees have the time, there are MANY worthwhile causes, if volunteering works for you everyone wins.
  • Share your expertise with the next generation – we all had careers in the “early years” and provided that the industry has not changed drastically our knowledge can still help others to avoid pitfalls we learned by experience.
  • Don’t waste any more time – do what you really like to do.  What is it that you do or have done in your life that REALLY gives you pleasure? Is there something that when you think about it brings an involuntary smile to your face? With my recent return to the working world (I found the perfect start up company with great people and am really enjoying doing it again) I find myself with less time to blog. But every now and then an idea comes to mind and with a smile on my face I endeavor to put it to words. I really enjoy it when I find precisely the right way to express a feeling I have and share it with my readers. Are you a writer? A painter? A hiker? A biker? Is photography your gig? Restoring old cars? Gardening? It is up to you and there are no rules!

24 hours in a day – 60 minutes in an hour – 60 seconds in a minute.

Don’t waste another…

In honor of grandparents

Are you one of those people fortunate enough to have had time to spend with your grandparents? Were you perhaps the lucky recipient of stories of the “old days” when men were men and life was good, when a dime user to buy a three-course dinner and “junk bonds” was not even in our vocabulary, when your word was your bond and trust was a given? Did you gaze at that wrinkled visage atop a body that seemed in a perpetual state of shrinking never quite knowing what would next escape their puckered mouth? 

Grandmothers are just antique little girls. ~Author Unknown

Grandparents – we all had them but not all of us were able to experience first-hand what they had to offer. Often gone before our time, we get by on pictures and scattered stories telling us of their lives. And you know there is a quite a conglomeration of stories when our parents crack a quick smile as they gaze off into the past and relive special moments. Memories a plenty I am sure because if they were anything like my parents, they had to have been characters. 

My grandkids believe I’m the oldest thing in the world.  And after two or three hours with them, I believe it, too. ~Gene Perret

We occasionally hear how something we do reminds others of a grandparent. It could be a simple expression or it could be the way we turn a particular phrase. It may be something as insignificant as the way we walk or as important as the way we treat a fellow human being. We sound like or look like or act like Grandpa Jacob – if we had only had a chance to meet him face to face.

Grandparents are similar to a piece of string – handy to have around and easily wrapped around the fingers of their grandchildren. ~Author Unknown

I was fortunate enough to spend time with my dad’s mom who lived into my college years. We shared many weekends together at family events as she lived only 40 minutes away. I clearly remember visits when we would stay up late and watch old movies while gnawing on a pickle the size of a meatloaf. I remember her dry sense of humor, her love of bridge, her evil hissing black cat who allowed no one near except Gram, and  her playing the piano while brave family members stepped up to sing along. I remember when my family and I were on vacation in Maui and we got the news that Gram had passed on. And I remember the emptiness that I felt wondering what had been the last thing I said to her while she was on this earth. I sure hope it ended with “I love you”.

A grandmother is a babysitter who watches the kids instead of the television.  ~Author Unknown

Grandparents know it all but generally prefer to dole out wisdom slowly. They could overwhelm us with why something should be one way because their experience tells them so. The focus of their attention could be to correct each and every character flaw and mistake the grandkids make. But loving  grandparents take the high road and just smile knowing that no one is perfect but if there was a grandchild even close to perfection it would be theirs.Leave the discipline to the parents – grandparents get to spoil and then return grandchildren when the day is done. 

When grandparents enter the door, discipline flies out the window.  ~Ogden Nash

Those of us who lived part of our lives along side our grandparents are blessed. Looking back I think we realize that. And I hope by our actions and deeds that our children learn to respect and treasure and experience their grandparents while they are here. The reality is we will all one day be grandparents and it sure would be nice to be appreciated and loved in a like fashion.

I want to die in my sleep like my grandfather – not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car. ~Will Shriner

To grandparents everywhere…