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Seniors should be on the lookout for scammers

November 29, 2012

With the holiday season fast approaching, many Americans are getting into the swing of things by heading out to shopping centers and scrolling through online stores in search of the perfect gifts. Unfortunately, the season also inspires scam artists and thieves to step up their attacks as well. As such, seniors should be on the lookout for scammers over the next few weeks, as these thieves can cause serious problems for retirees living on a fixed budget, and drive up senior living costs.

One of the most common points of attack on seniors takes place at the bank. Thieves' goal in these types of scams is to steal a senior's identity and gain access to their accounts. While cautious bankers may be aware of more overt attacks, such as when someone copies down a senior's pin number when he or she visits the ATM, scammers have grown cleverer with the times. highlights a common scam that has befallen countless seniors, where thieves will send out large checks that are made out to seniors. When one goes to cash the check, however, they may find that they've unwittingly agreed to an additional contract that will force them to pay much of their own money just to claim their cash.

Seniors will also want to keep a close eye on their credit card receipts and bank statements - especially when throwing them out. Thieves and scammers frequently sift through individuals' garbage to find these documents, which include lots of personal information and account numbers that they can use to steal seniors' money. All of these documents should be shredded before they are disposed of, and seniors may want to consider keeping this trash in a separate locale from their normal refuse.

Of course, seniors shopping online have their own unique risks to watch out for. Most important among the precautions is to always know what information you are sharing. When making a purchase online, no one should ever have to provide information such as a social security number or bank pin codes. If shopping on a site they are unfamiliar with, seniors may also want to research the company online to learn more about it - some sites are far less reputable than they may initially seem.