If you’re an older adult, you’re a target for fraud. Fraudsters think you’re sitting on piles of cash, which makes you vulnerable to numerous scams and schemes. The FBI estimates that older adults lose an estimated $3 billion a year to financial scams.
Anyone can be a potential target – it doesn’t matter how much money you have. At this age, any loss can be devastating and difficult to recoup. The key is to be able to identify and stop any scam in its tracks.
The National Council on Aging reports that older adults are likely to experience the following 10 most common financial scams.
10 most common scams against seniors
- Government imposter scams
Government imposters pretend to be from the IRS, Social Security Administration, or Medicare. Don’t fall for it when they say you have unpaid taxes, or that your benefits are being cut off. Never give out your personal identifying information.
- The grandparent scam
This devious scam is designed to tug at the heartstrings. A scammer will call pretending to be your grandchild, asking for money for some unexpected financial problem like rent or a car repair. Then, they’ll beg you not to tell anyone.
- Medicare and health insurance scams
Perpetrators may pose as Medicare representatives to get older adults to share their personal information. These scams often follow all the latest trends in medical research such as genetic testing fraud and Covid-19 vaccines.
- Computer tech support scams
Beware of pop-up messages that appear on your computer or phone that tell you that your device is compromised and needs to be fixed. A scammer will do this to lure you into paying for services you don’t really need.
- Sweepstakes and lottery scams
Scammers inform their target that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes of some kind and need to make some sort of payment to unlock the supposed prize. Before the bank identifies the check as fake, the scammer convinces the winner to pay a fee or tax on the prize.
- Robocalls/phone scams
Robocallers use a variety of tactics to cheat their victims. Some claim that your warranty is expiring on a car, electronic product, or appliance. There’s even a “Can you hear me?” scam where your voice is recorded to obtain an unauthorized voice signature.
- Romantic scams
Romance scammers are known to create fake profiles on social media to exploit lonely seniors and woo money from them. These criminals often request money to pay for visas, medical expenses, and travel expenses to visit a love interest.
- Internet and email fraud
Less tech-savvy older adults can be fooled into paying for and downloading fake anti-virus programs or actual viruses designed to capture their personal information. Phishing emails and texts can look so legitimate that seniors unwittingly share personal and financial information.
- Elder financial abuse
What makes this scam so disturbing? It’s carried out by someone you know. People who have a disability or cognitive impairment are at particular risk of having a family member, friend, power of attorney, or caregiver try to gain control of their money, assets, or credit.
- Charity scams
Charity scams prey on your goodwill and often capitalize on current events like natural disasters. They’ll even go so far as to set up a fundraising page on a crowdsourcing site. Be wary when asked to donate immediately or with a gift card or money transfer.
When in doubt, say nothing, share nothing
If you ever suspect that you’re being scammed, don’t act. Never give out any of your personal information by phone, internet, email, or text.
Always report a scam
If you’ve been a victim of a scam, always reach out for help. Contact your local police, your bank (if your account has been breached), and Adult Protective Services.
For contact information for the Adult Protective Services in your area, call 1-800-677-1116 or go to their website: https://eldercare.acl.gov.
You can also report scams online to the Federal Trade Commission by visiting https://reportfraud.ftc.gov.
Source: National Council on Aging