Senior fraud can take many forms and is a growing problem in the United States and worldwide. If you have an older parent or loved one, it is important that you proactively take steps to ensure that they don’t fall victim to scams. Keep reading to learn more about common scams affecting seniors today and what you can do to help them stay protected.
Common Scams Targeting Seniors
Scammers target seniors more than any other group. Recognizing these common scams can help protect your elderly loved one.
In this type of scam, a person may contact your loved one and pretend to be a family member in an emergency. For instance, the scammer might hack into the account of your grandchild and contact you asking for money.
A charity scam most often occurs after a natural disaster. A person may pose as an employee of a well-known charity and call vulnerable seniors for financial contributions.
Lottery or Sweepstakes Scams
In these scams, a senior may be contacted by phone, email or mail with a message that states they have won a lottery or sweepstakes. To claim the “prize,” however, the recipient must first make an upfront payment to cover fees and taxes.
Tech Support Scams
This form of fraud is a common scam targeting older adults who aren’t as tech-savvy as their younger counterparts. The scammer poses as a support representative from a reputable tech company claiming that the senior’s device has a technical issue that needs resolved. They usually request personal information via email or ask seniors to relinquish remote access to their computer.
Government Impersonation Scam
These scammers usually contact seniors by phone during tax season, claiming that they have a tax debt that requires immediate payment. The scammer impersonates a government official and may demand that the senior provides personal information or money.
Tips to Prevent a Scam
Educating yourself about common scams is the best way to protect your older loved one from falling prey to this type of fraudulent activity. To help safeguard yourself from scams, practice the following:
- Never reveal personal information, such as your social security number, passwords or bank account information, over the phone or in response to an email, social media platform or text message.
- Be wary of threats or urgent requests that require immediate action, as this is often indicative of a scam.
- Enable extra security measures online to help protect scammers from getting into your accounts.
- Scan any utility bills or credit card statements for charges you didn’t authorize. Always contact the utility provider or bank if you notice any unusual activity.
- Never click on links in unsolicited emails, texts or social media messages.
- Be suspicious of promises of significant returns on investments or sweepstakes that you never entered. An offer that seems too good to be true usually is.
- In situations where you’re unsure, ask a trusted friend or family member before giving out your credit card number, money or sensitive information.
Bottom line: By staying vigilant and knowing what to look for, you can prevent yourself and your loved ones from being taken advantage of. If you suspect your senior loved one has been scammed, act right away. Start by gathering as much information as possible about the suspected scam. Report the fraud to the appropriate authorities, such as your local law enforcement or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).