A June 2010 survey by Investor Protection Trust showed that roughly 20 percent of Americans aged 65 or older has been taken advantage of financially.
Most commonly, seniors are shown to be affected by inappropriate investment, unreasonably high fees for financial services, or outright fraud.
BBB head Dale Mingleton notes the four most prominent scams for seniors to avoid.
This is where people will go door-to-door and try to cause a sense of urgency. The business will lie about safety issues or the extent of the problem, hoping to inflate the prices for their services. Some of the service providers may include furnace repairmen, contractors, air duct cleaners, or door-to-door salespeople.
Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams
The sweepstakes scam normally occurs when a victim receives a letter in the mail that he or she has won a lottery or sweepstakes. The letter will tell the person to deposit an enclosed check and then wire a portion back to the company to cover taxes or administration fees. Sometimes the scammers will also say that a taxi will come pick you up to help you claim your money. Mingleton advises that if you haven't entered into something, you're never going to win.
This scam includes a telephone call from someone claiming to be a relative stuck in a foreign country, needing money to get home. Often the caller claims to a relative serving in the military who needs money for medical needs. The BBB advises that seniors should ask the caller for their name or other information that would be only known to a relative.
Medicare scams are easily accomplished because of the ambiguous nature of the system. Scammers claim to be with Medicare and ask for personal information. A victim may be given numerous excuses to provide information such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, or bank account numbers.
Once again, Mingleton reiterates that a person should never give away any information to a business without doing some research. For more information on these scams, visit www.denver.bbb.org/foundation.
Garrett Boyd contributed to this report.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)