7 Scams That Empty Your Wallet and Savings

Every day, confidential financial information is compromised. You may have heard of a neighbor or a relative targeted by financial scams. This growing threat can affect the security of your savings. There are a flood of schemes out there, and you don’t want to be their next target. But it can be hard to tell what is a scam and what is legitimate.

We’ve outlined seven common scams so you can avoid them and guard your hard-earned money.

1) Medical Alert System Scam

Wallet With Money Inside

You’re answering an incoming call and it’s one of those irritating pre-recorded sales calls. Normally you’d hang up, but the message tells you a considerate family member has gifted you an alert system. It seems strange that they wouldn’t have told you personally, doesn’t it?

If it seems suspicious, that’s because it is. These robocalls are trying to deceive you. The scammers try to collect your financial info for “activation fees” or “service charges” but you will never receive your medical alert. Instead, you’ll see a whopping withdrawal from your personal savings!

At Alert1, we don’t call you unless you personally reach out to us. You can trust that our life-saving alert systems aren’t some hoax. Alert1 is highly rated on Consumer Affairs. We will help protect you. 

2) Anti-Aging Product Scam

If you’ve ever thought of turning back the hands of time and restoring youth, you’re not alone. Today’s media glamorizes people with fresh faces and sparkles in their eyes. You need to be cautious when looking for anti-aging products. Many people have fallen victim to distributors of fake Botox and fake remedies that do more harm than good.

A bad batch of “miracle cures” can have negative health consequences if you get them from the wrong source. Be certain that you receive treatment from reputable cosmetic surgeons or dermatologists. Look for licensed medical facilities for your anti-aging needs.  

3) Grandparent Scam

The basis of this scam is that a loved one that needs money because they are in trouble. One fateful morning, you receive a frantic phone call from your granddaughter. She’s sobbing and crying because she was arrested on a recent trip to Tijuana. You didn’t know she planned a getaway — you just saw her last weekend! But of course this matter is time sensitive and you can’t bear to imagine her in jail. So of course you send her the money she asks for.

Let’s break down the above scenario. On the other end of your phone, the scammer is intentionally vague. Once you say your granddaughter’s name and ask for details, the scammer adjusts their story. Your “granddaughter” will say that she’s imprisoned, her rent is past due, or she’s fallen ill. You'll be prompted to send money via wire transfer.

If you find yourself in this situation, keep calm and ask the caller tough questions. Demand they tell you the name their childhood pet or elementary school. If it really is your granddaughter, she will understand and appreciate your caution.

These phone calls are scary, but stay strong and make sure that the caller really is who she says she is. Call the people you trust before you send any money by wire transfer, no matter how urgent the situation may seem. Chances are your granddaughter will be surprised by your call because she is actually safe at home.

4) Lottery Scam

Anyone on a tight budget would agree: we all enjoy a little added cash flow. One day you get a phone call with news that you have won a sweepstakes! It must be your lucky day, what can go wrong?

It turns out, a lot can go wrong. For one, the con will ask you to pay taxes up front, or they will deposit a fake check into your account. The criminals will quickly take control of your savings and swindle your money.  The lesson here is to beware of quick paydays from unknown sources. Did you really enter that sweepstakes? Did you even play that lottery? If you truly do win you should never have to pay in advance or give out your bank account information. 

5) Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

Prescription Pills

You can buy nearly anything at a reduced price on the internet. You may have heard some hot gossip at bingo last week of huge savings from buying meds online.

Shopping online is a double edged sword, considering both your health and your finances are on the line. Each year the FDA investigates a growing number of these cases. Many times they find that prescriptions filled online are harmful. You can’t be certain that internet medications are safe substances, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.

6) Funeral and Cemetery Scams

Con artists even target those who are grieving over the loss of a loved one. There’s nothing they won’t do for an extra buck or two.

The scammer will read the obituary section of the paper, and contact you by phone or in person at the funeral service. They will claim that the deceased had an outstanding debt and now it’s up to you to pay the “balance”. Be wary of such claims.  Ask for proof, expense lists, or contracts to prove their claims.

7) Medicare Fraud

Stethoscope and Broken Piggy Bank

Scam artists know most people over 65 receive Medicare. Don’t trust visits, phone calls or emails from Medicare representatives requesting your Medicare info. Fraudulent parties will try to collect your personal information and then steal money from your account.

A general rule of thumb is to be wary of anyone looking to sell you Medicare services. Never share your financial information to anyone claiming to be a Medicare representative over phone or via email. 

Fool me once…

Unfortunately, financial scams are here to stay. They come in all shapes but have one common theme: they are devious and cunning in nature.

If you have been the casualty of a scam, mention it to someone you trust immediately. If you suspect any deceptive activity there are resources that can help. Banks, local law enforcement, or Adult Protective Services will help you.

Be sure you confirm the legitimacy of people and organizations that are soliciting you. Until you know all the facts, don’t take anything at face value.