Seniors: Protecting from Identity Theft

There always seems to be someone trying to get rich quick at the expense of the unsuspecting. Insurance fraud is a $32 billion business for property/casualty insurers, and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services estimates healthcare fraud to be more than twice that amount. While there are many fraud victim stories to tell, it’s kind of scary when one hits close to home.

I was reminded of the vulnerability of senior citizens yesterday as I cleared a pile of papers from my desk to see a letter an 81-year-old relative received months ago telling her she won a “Shoppers Sweepstakes.” Along with the letter declaring her “winning” $230,000 was a very legitimate-looking check for $3,750. The letter explained the money was an advance to pay the tax on her “winnings” and directed her to send two separate Money Grams for nearly $1,000 each to pay the “tax” on the “winnings.” Thankfully, this relative has a longtime habit of turning over all her mail for review, so nothing happened — other than astonishment over the scam.

Seniors get mounds of unsolicited mail for all types of investment “deals” and requests for iffy charitable donations. It would be great if they had a friend or family member review all such requests before any checks were written or before responding to farcical finance schemes. The state has a program called On Guard for Seniors to help Floridians develop a fraud radar to deflect scams. It’s worth checking out. Thanks to insuringflorida.org.