Protecting You and Your Loved Ones

Elder Law Articles

Avoiding Scams

Avoiding Scams

Seniors are a special target for criminals seeking to scam them out of their hard earned life’s savings. The scammers are clever and relentless and prey on the normal human instinct to protect themselves and their families from financial loss, or the desire to cash in on some offer that seems too good to be true. So if you get a phone call, or an email either threatening that unless you pay some debt, or can win thousands of dollars if you just give some information, STOP. Do not give out your private information, such as social security number, date of birth, financial information, or family names and addresses.

Just this week, I received a phone call, supposedly from IRS, claiming some information was needed on a family member’s trust. How did I know it was not legitimate? Because IRS has an iron clad policy that it does not make phone calls to taxpayers, period. If you receive such a communication, hang up. It is not legitimate. IRS does communicate by letter, but if you get a letter than appears to be from the IRS, do not respond to the number or address shown. Look up the IRS number from another source and call or write to them at that address. Better yet, show that letter to your adult children, or an accountant, or the police to make sure you are talking to a real IRS employee. You can contact IRS at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or report “impersonation” in the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting webpage.

A classic scam over several decades is the “Nigerian” letter or phone call from someone stating a company from Nigeria, or some other country, has millions or dollars tied up in the United States and all they need is an honest person to help retrieve the money. You are promised a percentages of the recovery. They ask for your social security number and your bank account information and a small deposit from you to show you are acting in good faith. Do not do it. Hang up. Call your
kids or the police.

I once had a client call in a panic that they had gotten a call from some police department in another state saying that their grandson had been arrested and was going straight to jail unless they paid $8,000 in cash. The scammer wanted the cash in $100 bills stuffed between pages of a magazine and dropped off at a specific time and place. They were panicked but being the age of cell phones, I asked, “do you know your grandson’s cell phone number?” They did. They called him and he was perfectly fine. That was the end of that.

Another scam is by someone who shows up at your doorstep saying he was passing by and noticed your house needs some type of repair or another. He then says he is working on another job nearby and if you just give him a small deposit he will be back tomorrow to do the job. Of course, tomorrow never comes.

The scammers always try to fool people through fear or the natural desire to win something. They are experts at using your emotions against you. So if you are ever faced with a terrible call, or a too good to be true call, hang up. Call your kids and the police. And for children of the elderly, consider suggesting the parents assets be put into a trust so that only the children can make large withdrawals on behalf of the parents. That way the moment of fear will have passed, and calmer heads can help avoid financial loss.
Attorneys Stephen O. Allaire (Of Counsel) and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. Allaire (Of Counsel) and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.




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