Avoiding Scams That Target the Elderly

Unfortunately, seniors are often the target of scams. Instead of enjoying life after working for years, people in retirement find themselves trying to figure out how to overcome insurmountable debt to no fault of their own.

Although perhaps not the ideal situation, if you have been the victim of a scam and now all your retirement money is gone, consider speaking to a Watertown bankruptcy lawyer about Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debt consolidation, or credit counseling. To avoid being scammed, education is the key.

Reverse Mortgage Scams

While reverse mortgages are a legitimate way of getting equity out of the home, people who scam the elderly are interested in taking the entire home, not just the equity. In this case, scammers convince seniors that reverse mortgage offers are real when, in fact, the homeowner transfers the property to the criminal without realizing it. Another reverse mortgage scam involves charging outrageous and unfair fees for a real loan.

To take equity from the home to travel, for medical reasons, to make home improvements, or to purchase a bigger-ticket item, always work with a trusted mortgage broker or bank.

Contractor Scam

Often, seniors live in the same home for 30, 40, or even 50 years. Over time, home repairs are needed. In this scam, so-called contractors call or, even worse, show up at an elderly person’s doorstep claiming to be licensed professionals who can repair roofs, fix siding, build new decks, and so on, all for an incredibly reduced price.

Because scammers know the language, drive work trucks complete with ladders and construction tools, and seem willing to give seniors discounted rates as a way of being kind, they appear legitimate. Being “old school,” some seniors are overly trusting and have made deals on a handshake. Therefore, they never think twice about paying the full price of the job upfront. With the money in hand, the scammer leaves to purchase materials never to return.

If your home needs repairs, find a licensed contractor through friends, family members, neighbors, and other trusted sources, like reference sites and trade associations. Regardless, all work should be outlined in a legal contract and no more than 50 percent should be paid upfront.

Investment Scams

Even when people are protective of their retirement funds, professional scammers are able to steal money through “investment opportunities.” In this case, seniors are promised high returns with virtually no risk, but as the saying goes, “If it seems too good to be true…”

Someone offering a real investment opportunity will give you time to conduct research. If you ever feel pressured into making a quick decision, turn and run. To discourage this type of scam, let the person know that you want to consult with another financial advisor or that you need everything in writing.

The Bottom Line

Sadly, not everyone is honest. To protect your retirement money, listen to your gut instinct, ask a lot of questions, and use reputable and trusted sources. If you have become the victim of a senior scam, there is no shame in talking to a qualified Watertown bankruptcy lawyer.

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