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mmw-scamming-grandmaIt’s comforting to tell ourselves that people are decent and compassionate in Birmingham, Alabama, but the sad truth is some people are unscrupulous enough to prey on seniors.

In fact, some thieves and con artists target Birmingham area seniors because they think they can get away with their scam more easily than other groups.

The National Council on Aging warns seniors to watch out for several types on scams, including:

Medicare Fraud: Perpetrators may pretend to be a Medicare representative to get your personal information so they can then use the personal information provided to bill Medicare and pocket the money. A variation of this is counterfeit drug scams that take advantage of your desire to save money by sending pills that may do nothing at all for your condition.

Funeral and Cemetery Scams: A tactic of some funeral homes is to capitalize on your unfamiliarity with the cost of funerals to add unnecessary charges to the bill. Be wary of any high-pressure sales tactics, especially when you are emotionally distraught.

Telemarketing Fraud: Seniors make twice as many purchases over the phone than the average American, so it’s no wonder scammers use the phone to target older people. Sometimes they solicit on behalf of fake charities after disasters or offer to share a big pile of money if you’re willing to make a “good faith” payment by withdrawing funds from your bank account.

Computer Fraud: If a pop-up window opens on your browser window simulating virus-scanning software, don’t click on it because it may be downloading viruses that will search your PC for your private information. Email/Phishing Scams are also a danger, sending the senior messages that appear to be legitimate when they are fake.

Investment Schemes: Pyramid schemes can be tempting for those trying to build and safeguard their cash for their later years, but these can be very destructive.

The Grandparent Scam: Scammers will place a call to an older person and say something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer asks for money for overdue rent, payment for car repairs, etc., to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram, which don’t always require identification to collect. The scam artist will beg the grandparent “please don’t tell my parents, they would kill me.”

These are just a few of the ways people try to take advantage of Birmingham seniors, but now that you know what to look out for, you can arm yourself with some healthy skepticism and safeguard your finances.