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Two Scams That the Elderly Need to be Aware of

by Staff

in Aging, Retirement

There are a number of scammers out there ready and willing to prey on the elderly. According to the FBI, this is because people who were born before 1950 were raised to be polite and trusting. This combined with the fact that many older Americans have issues with failing eyesight, hearing loss and memory problems, make many scammers see them as easy marks. Here are two common scams that target older people and ways to avoid falling for them:

Home Repair Scams – These scammers usually come out of the woodwork after a large storm or series of storms have rolled through the area. They send out fliers in bulk and drive through neighborhoods looking for homes with damaged roofs, broken windows or other storm damage. After assessing the damage, coming up with an estimate and then claiming to work with your home owners insurance company, these repairmen then require a hefty portion of the payment for the work up front. Once you pay them, they are never seen again and the work never gets completed. In order to avoid these scams, contact your insurance company once any damage occurs to your house. Often, they have specific contractors that they work with who are completely legit. Avoid working with repair or construction companies that solicit your business, whether it is by knocking on your door, calling on the phone or sending out fliers. Never pay the full amount of the repair costs up front, especially if your insurance is going to be covering the damage.

Reverse Mortgage Scams – Many reverse mortgages are legitimate, especially those made through a well-known bank or money lending company. These mortgages allow retired people to take out a loan against the equity of their home. The money can be handed over in one lump sum, or set up as a line of credit. They do not need to be paid back until the lendee either passes away or sells their home. The problem with these are that many unscrupulous “lenders” claim to be setting up a reverse mortgage, but once the paperwork is signed, they end up either owning the home outright (in which case the person who took out the mortgage ends up homeless) or charging insanely high up-front fees. Once those fees are paid, the scammer disappears and it turns out that the reverse mortgage never existed in the first place. To avoid these, never work with a reverse mortgage company that approaches you first. If they send out a bunch of fliers, go door to door soliciting business or try to hook you on their products over the phone, steer clear. That and always read any contract thoroughly before signing it. If you don’t understand what it says, have your children, grandchildren or lawyer read it.

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