Scams and Seniors

Staying Safe

Fraud can happen to anyone, but some criminals target seniors. Scammers can target you anywhere - online, on the phone, in person or by mail. Stay safe by knowing the warning signs of fraud when selling or buying a home.

Reverse Mortgages

Reverse mortgage loans are a popular home financing option for people age 62 and over. These loans allow seniors to convert their home equity into cash, without any monthly mortgage payments. Some people, however, run into fraudulent situations with these types of loans.

Reverse mortgage scams can take many forms, but they typically involve either:

  • A perpetrator misleading someone into taking out a reverse mortgage loan in order to steal from them

  • A perpetrator convincing someone to take out a loan that isn’t the best available option

There are steps you can take to avoid a fraudulent loan situation and seek action against someone who has defrauded you. Before taking out a reverse mortgage loan, consider other options. And, always consult your REALTOR® about safe, vetted loan options.

Bereavement Scams

If you have recently lost a spouse and receive a call from someone claiming they owe debts, don’t give out your information. A debt collector would not ask for this information over the phone, and in most cases, you aren’t obligated to pay off your spouse’s debts.

Fake Calls from the IRS

You may get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, saying you owe money and need to pay it back immediately. If someone asks for money over the phone, hang up. Even if the caller has personal information about you, the IRS would never demand immediate payment over the phone. This person is likely a scammer.

 

Home Improvement Scams

 

If someone approaches your doorstep offering to repair something in or around your home, don’t let them in. Or, if they ask for money upfront, avoid doing business with them. They may take your money without ever coming back to make repairs.

 

How to Avoid Fraud

The best way to avoid being a victim of fraud is to be cautious about who you share your personal information with, and to monitor your finances. Check your tax statements and bank statements closely. You can also invest in a real estate monitoring service, which tracks property transfers or unauthorized liens in county public records. Similarly, credit monitoring services help protect you from identity theft.

 

What to do in a Fraudulent Situation

If you believe you’re a victim of fraud, contact your local authorities immediately. If you were misled into signing a fraudulent contract, you may need to get a lawyer. Other resources you can turn to include: