How to Protect Older Citizens from Scams

It is no secret that scammers devise schemes specifically targeted at age groups such as older adults. TNS’ robocall protection team is warning of a particular scam using robocalling to fraudulently sell final expense insurance and life insurance, which is being targeted at older residents in the US. Keep reading to find out how you can help protect older friends and family members from falling victim.

Final Expense Insurance

Final expense insurance can be helpful for families to cover the costs related to a person’s death. There are multiple types of final expenses and life insurance available.

One common scam is presenting accidental death insurance as life insurance, when accidental life insurance does not cover a natural death and is very low-cost. The low-price tag may draw people in, and they are under the assumption that all causes of death are covered. Unfortunately, this can be financially detrimental if the cause of death is not covered.

A different use of this scam by fraudsters involves hidden policy details when selling you final expense insurance. There is often a hidden two-year waiting period. Scammers will omit this detail because the victim would likely reject the policy if they knew they would not actually be insured for two years after paying.

Many of these scam robocalls are attempting to sell a prepaid funeral package such as a bundle of funeral services which need to be paid in advance.

The call may start off like this:

“Based on our records, it shows that you may qualify for a state regulated final expense insurance plan that’s going to cover 100% of your funeral, burial and cremation expense. Are you between the ages of 50 and 80-years-old?”

The biggest red flag for detecting this as a scam is if there is pressure to purchase, as well as the method of payment. If the caller is requesting full payment or fees through third party apps such as PayPal or Venmo, it is most likely a scam. A reputable funeral home also would not try to force you into buying a package, which we will talk more about below.

What is the Funeral Rule?

Scams around funeral services have been so prevalent in the past that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) created the Funeral Rule.

The rule allows a person to buy only the funeral arrangements they want. Therefore, a funeral home cannot make you buy a package that includes services you do not want to purchase. The rule also allows you to get price information on the telephone, receive an itemized price list and receive a written statement after you decide what you want and before you pay. If a funeral home has cold called you or a relative and is not following these regulations there is a good chance the call could be a scam.

If you are searching for final expense, burial expense or life insurance, it is best to research reputable providers and reach out to them directly. Be cautious of robocallers and seek out any red flags to help you identify a scam.

Regardless of age, it is best practice to never engage with unknown numbers and report phone numbers being used by scammers to your carrier. If you believe you are the victim of a scam, you can report it to your local police, state Attorney General’s office and the FTC.

Call-blocking apps, including those powered by  TNS Call Guardian®, are also a great resource for reporting and blocking unwanted robocalls. Stay vigilant and share information about scams with others.

Call Guardian is a registered trademark of Transaction Network Services, Inc.

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Unwanted Calls Nationwide Snapshot

TNS estimates that more than 58 billion unwanted calls were made in the last 12 months representing a 13% decrease over the last 12 months versus the previous 12 months.  Unwanted calls increased 8% from March to April at 4.6B.  This represents a 12% decrease from April 2023 to April 2024.

Unwanted calls are comprised of nuisance calls and high-risk calls. The severity of harm of nuisance calls are moderate. The severity of harm for high-risk calls is deemed as a major invasion of privacy that can cause emotional distress.

May24-Unwanted

TNS Heatmap of Originating Unwanted Calls

Top 10 Area Codes for Generating Unwanted Calls -May 2024

Top 10 Area Codes for Generating Unwanted Calls – May 2024

Top 10 Area Codes for Generating Unwanted Calls – May 2023

Rank

NPA

Area

Total

1

336

NC

17,525,179

2

919

NC

16,417,332

3

910

NC

16,338,499

4

704

NC

16,323,991

5

407

FL

13,511,665

6

706

GA

13,351,757

7

803

SC

12,275,494

8

843

SC

12,163,761

9

513

OH

11,709,675

10

252

NC

11,407,564

Rank

NPA

Area

Total

1

336

NC

16,317,867

2

704

NC

13,934,735

3

919

NC

13,909,319

4

910

NC

12,863,058

5

706

GA

11,579,069

6

407

FL

10,987,566

7

513

OH

10,353,251

8

843

SC

10,179,093

9

330

OH

10,144,927

10

813

SC

9,969,098

Rank

NPA

Area

Total

1

209

CA

8,278,289

2

602

AZ

7,960,312

3

803

SC

7,593,475

4

520

AZ

7,386,677

5

240

DC

6,592,348

6

480

AZ

6,514,782

7

725

NV

6,487,308

8

239

FL

6,409,603

9

720

CO

6,074,730

10

719

CO

6,029,339

TNS Unwanted Call Indices

 

TNS Calling Trust Index – Last 12 Months

TNS Complaint Index – Last 12 Months

 

The TNS Calling Trust Index is a measure of the crowd-source feedback for the unwanted calls that TNS receives in relation to the total number of calls to a subscriber. The index gives an indication of the consumer trust in voice calling and pulls data from our robocall protection platform TNS Call Guardian®.

 

TNS Complaint Index is a measure of the FCC complaints for the Do-Not-Call List in relation to the total number of unwanted calls seen by TNS. The index gives an indication to how many consumers are reporting complaints to the FCC relative to the number of unwanted robocalls they receive.

 

Take Action for Robocall Protection, go to: ReportARobocall.com

TNS Call Guardian uses real-time call events combined with crowd-sourced data to create accurate and comprehensive reputation profiles differentiating legitimate users from abusive, fraudulent and unlawful ones. Reporting robocall incidents adds important data making our solutions more robust.

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