Watch Out for Senior Financial Fraud

 Imagine you get a call from your grandmother.  She asks that you take her to the bank because the neighbor that usually takes her is busy, and she needs to get another certified check.  On the way to the bank, your grandmother shares that the lottery company promises that this is the final fee that needs to be paid for her award check to be issued – it has only cost her $1,000 and the award will be $100,000. “What!?!” 

This isn’t just a made-up story meant to scare you.  In fact, Susan Tompor of the Detroit Free Press wrote an article about this very topic recently in an article titled “Time to Look Out for Granparents’ Money”.   It is also consistent with the types of scams that the State of Michigan Offices for Services to the Aging are reporting and trying to combat.

In the Free Press article, Susan Tompor referenced a recent survey conducted by the Investor Protection Trust and the Investor Protection Institute that identified the top three areas of senior scams:

  • Theft by family members – family members taking and cashing Social Security checks and/or misusing access to bank accounts.
  • Theft by caregivers – similar to family fraud, but by trusted caregivers that are not family members.
  • Financial scams involving strangers
    • Scams can involve strangers pretending to be grandchildren in trouble in a foreign country requesting that money be wired to get them back to the U.S.;
    • Scams indicating that the senior has won a lottery, but needs to send a wire or check to cover processing fees; or
    • Scams requesting personal information (Social Security Numbers, etc.) to verify Medicare or other benefits (seniors providing the requested information can become victims of identity theft).

These scammers take advantage of the trust and good will of older adults.  If you are an older adult, a family member of an older adult, or professional that works with older adults, be aware of possible senior financial fraud.  Take steps to protect yourself or the older adults you know by:

  • Protect your information, including Social Security Numbers, account numbers, etc.
  • Verify the validity of anyone calling or contacting you asking for personal information and/or transfer of funds.
  • Do your due diligence before hiring professionals to assist with providing of care or any other professional services.
  • If fraud is suspected, contact the appropriate authorities:
    • Adult Protective Services Vulnerable Adult Helpline 1-800-996-6228
    • Senior Medicare Patrol 1-800-803-1714
    • State Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation 1-877-999-6442
    • OR your local police

If you have questions about this additional Elder Care Planning issues, contact me at