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February 2019 News
Common Scams and How to Avoid Them
By Elizabeth D. Johnson
These days, anyone can be a victim of a fraudulent scam. Scammers tend to prey on those in a vulnerable position, such as victims of a natural disaster, family members with a recently deceased relative, or the elderly. The most common scams today can be via telephone calls, e-mails, social media, or even in person. According to the National Council on Aging, senior citizens are thought to have a significant amount of money sitting in their accounts, making them a target for scams by not only strangers, but family members or caretakers. Below we will touch on a few frequent scams so that you can identify suspicious behavior and keep yourself or a loved one from becoming a victim:

The Medicare Scam

Most citizens aged 65 and over qualify for Medicare, making it unnecessary for scammers to try and figure out what health insurance company older people use. The perpetrators usually pose as a Medicare Representative and ask for personal information or provide needless services for the elderly at mobile clinics, then use the personal information to bill Medicare and pocket the money. Always be wary of salespeople trying to sell you something they claim that Medicare will pay for, and report suspicious activities to 1-800-MEDICARE.

The Grandparent Scam

This one has been around for years. A scammer will call an older adult pretending to be a grandchild or other family member who has recently been in an accident or in legal trouble and needs money immediately. In the past, these frauds have gotten the victim to use wire transfers or gift cards to move the money. According to the Federal Trade Commission, seniors have also been mailing the cash using envelopes hidden in the pages of magazines. If you or someone you know receives this type of call, it is important not to act right away and to call another family member or a well-known phone number of the grandchild who is supposedly calling.

The Natural Disaster Scam

With the frequency of natural disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes, or tornadoes, scammers have found a new route to steal money from the downtrodden. They will target those who have been directly affected by a natural disaster or those who want to offer their support. Typically, they will impersonate charities and may set up fake websites with names that mimic legitimate charities to get money and personal information. They can also pretend to be the IRS to collect personal information under the guise of helping victims file loss claims and get tax refunds. To avoid falling victim to these scams, use the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization search to find legitimate charities or the disaster relief page for information regarding tax relief.

The Funeral Scam

There aren’t many things a scammer won’t do to make a profit, including taking advantage of those who have recently experienced a major loss. Sometimes, a person will use obituaries to contact family members and claim that the decedent has an outstanding debt which needs to be paid immediately. Another funeral-related scam comes from those who provide you a service no one else can: the funeral director. The FTC created a federal rule which requires funeral directors to provide you with a detailed price list before you decide to work with them and to let you order only the products or services you want. Unfortunately, some funeral directors don’t play by these rules and making some clients believe they need to purchase more than they want or can afford. Even though it is a difficult time and you will be grieving, know your rights under the Funeral Rule and your state’s law concerning embalming, coffins, burial, and cremation. That way, you can know if a funeral home is trying to overcharge you with unneeded items. 

Regrettably, this is just a small list of the possible scams you or someone you know could fall victim to. If you ever feel that you or a loved one has been or will be a victim of a scam, report it to the appropriate authority and feel free to call us if you need help.

Additional information:

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Space Hunt
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Shrimp Scampi Risotto
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In case you missed it...
Welcome Meredith H. Maust!
Meredith is a 2014 graduate of the Regent School of Law. She focuses her practice on estate planning, estate and trust administration, and estate litigation. She has extensive experience in drafting pleadings, negotiating with opposing counsel, handling all aspects of discovery, drafting settlement agreements, managing guardianship/conservatorship proceedings (including contested cases), and is the Chair of the Estate Litigation practice area at The Peninsula Center. She is a member of the Virginia State Bar – Trusts and Estates and Family Law sections.

While in law school, Meredith was Senior Editor of the Regent Law Review and member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Board. Meredith graduated cum laude from George Mason University where she majored in Government and International Relations. 
 
Meredith is familiar with the local courts due to her work as the Judicial Clerk for the judges of the Hampton Circuit Court and her years in Newport News as a Family Law litigator. Her devotion to her clients and commitment to personal attention drew her to The Peninsula Center where clients remain the firm’s number one priority. 

We are very excited to welcome Meredith to the TPC family!
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Sincerely,
 
Helena S. Mock, Esq.

THE PENINSULA CENTER
FOR ESTATE AND LIFELONG PLANNING 
461 McLaws Circle, Suite 2
Williamsburg, VA 23185 
Phone: 757-969-1900