Scammers targeting seniors

Know the latest schemes, recognize warning signs

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There are now more Americans who are 65 and older than any other time in our history. There are 40.3 million people who are officially senior citizens. If you are or care about a senior citizen, know how to recognize some of the latest schemes targeting older people.

Mom, dad, elderly neighbor: they are prime targets of thieves. Met Life's Mature Market Institute estimates seniors lose $2.6 billion each year due to financial abuse and fraud.

Watch out for the social security rip off. This recent scam involves ID thieves stealing personal information and contacting the Social Security Administration to change the payment routing information to the thieves' own bank accounts or prepaid debit cards.

Also beware of the discount prescription scam. Callers offer seniors prescription drugs at 50% off. The catch is there's a $200 membership fee to join the discount club and the seniors are asked to pay it with a credit card. The drugs never arrive, and if they do it's actually a generic herbal replacement.

Finally, if you notice your parents are getting a lot of junk mail or telemarketing calls, they may be a prime target for scammers. Rip off artists sell names and phone numbers of seniors who prove to be phone receptive. In other words, they are too polite to hang up on telemarketers. Be sure the seniors you know are on the do not call registry. You can sign up at 888-382-1222.

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