It is awful to think that there are those people out there who purposefully try to scam others, especially vulnerable individuals. We all know that scammers target the elderly, but were you aware that there are several scams out there that specifically target the bereaved?
Scammers will call the family of a lost loved one and claim to be an insurance provider who holds a life insurance policy on the deceased. They will claim that the policy is typically valued at $40K to $50K, but that the deceased got behind on their premiums. They will then ask the family to “pay up” and reactivate the policy before they can issue the payout. Often families are asked to pay up to $2,500. Scammers ask the family to wire transfer the funds along with a copy of the death certificate.
If you think a family might be subject to this type of scam, have them contact their state Insurance Commissioner’s Office which maintains records of all life insurance policies.
The Better Business Bureau has issued an alert to consumers about a scam targeting bereaved families that have lost loved ones. A company claiming to be collections services is sending bogus credit card invoices to people that have had a recent death in the family. The invoice is addressed to the deceased with invoice amounts ranging from $100 to more than $700.
If you believe the invoice is incorrect and that the deceased did not have such a credit card, run a credit report on the deceased. All open accounts will be listed. You can visit www.experian.com or www. transunion.com.
Scammers will call the bereaved family and claim that now that their loved one has passed, they need to update their insurance cards. Callers will ask the family to verify information which may include birthdates (and death dates) as well as social security numbers.
Be advised that these agencies will never call the family and ask for information to be verified over the phone.
Scammers will call the family and claim that work was scheduled to be done on the home, but that it had not been completed. The family will be asked if they would like the work to be done or canceled. Either way, the family is asked to cover the cost of the estimate which can be as much as $250 (which was supposed to be applied to the total cost of the work done).
If you believe that such work was never actually scheduled by the deceased, ask the company to mail you the estimate. They should already have the address if the claim is legitimate. That will give you time to investigate the company and the claim.
An intimidating and sophisticated phone scam, callers claim to be IRS employees and say the deceased owes taxes. They might also threaten to arrest you if you don’t pay, know all or part of your Social Security number, rig caller ID to make it look like the call is from the IRS or tell you to put the money on a prepaid debit card and tell them the card number.
The IRS does NOT call to demand immediate payment of taxes owed without first sending you a notification by mail, ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement to arrest you for nonpayment. If you have any doubts, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.
There are many more scams out there, and deceivers are becoming more and more sophisticated in their scams and schemes, attempting to be as believable as possible at a time when people are most vulnerable. If you believe your family (or a family you are working with) has been the target of unscrupulous scammers, visit the FTC website. There is much helpful information available as well as guidance on how to report such activity.
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