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Texas Department of Insurance
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How to avoid scams aimed at older adults

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When it comes to making a quick buck, scammers don’t care who they victimize. Here are two common scams that target older adults and tips to help avoid them.

Premium theft scam

Some dishonest insurance agents will ask you to pay them directly and then keep your money. Sometimes they’ll make a payment to the insurance company so you’ll get a policy in the mail. Then they’ll stop sending your payments to the company, and the company will cancel your policy. You might not find out until you need to file a claim.

How to avoid it: Always pay the company, not the agent. Don’t pay with cash. You can trace and verify check and credit card payments, but not cash. If you must pay with cash, get a receipt. If you get a cancellation notice in the mail, call the company – not the agent – to ask why.

Savings theft scam

Some people buy annuities to create retirement income. If you buy an annuity, be careful when moving your money around. A dishonest agent could set up a bank account and ask you to deposit money into it. But then they don’t move your money into the annuity.

How to avoid it: Understand that annuities aren’t right for everyone. Consider your needs carefully and talk to a financial adviser before you buy one. Take someone you trust with you when you meet with an agent to buy an annuity. After you buy an annuity, you have 20 days to cancel if you decide it won’t work for you.

Other tips to avoid scams

  • Beware unexpected calls. If you didn’t call them first, the salesperson probably found your information on a mailing list.
  • Don’t buy over the phone. The risk of fraud is greater if you buy insurance over the phone or online.
  • Don’t be rushed. Be wary of offers for a “last-chance deal" or other appeals to make a quick decision. Take your time. It's also a good idea to talk to your family or a financial adviser before you buy.
  • Watch for scam artists. Be wary of people who say they are from Medicare, Social Security, or any government agency. Medicare does not make sales calls.
  • Keep all documents and take notes. Keep any paperwork you get from the insurance company. Write down the names of people you talk to and details of conversations you have.
  • Verify agents and companies. Before you buy insurance, call TDI to make sure the agent and company are licensed. We can also tell you a company’s financial rating. Call our Help Line at 800-252-3439.

Also call our Help Line to report an insurance scam or ask questions about insurance.

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For more information, contact: MediaRelations@tdi.texas.gov

Last updated: 5/27/2022