Avoiding Senior-Targeted Scams and Fraud

As our dependence on technology increases, so does the number of “scam” calls that we receive. It seems that every other call is from a shady ‘insurance agency’ or ‘credit card company’ asking for our social security, credit card, or bank account numbers. Unfortunately, for seniors, many of these scams are targeted at the elderly; often taking advantage of their compassion and unfamiliarity with modern technology. How do we avoid these scams? How do we prevent ourselves and our loved ones from losing money to deceptive and manipulative people? The answer is simple; spread the word! Knowing popular scam methods is an effective way to smoke out what is and isn’t legitimate. The National Council on Aging has provided a list of popular scams that target the elderly; the list includes,

  • Medicare/Health Insurance Scams
    • Scammers will pretend to be Medicare representatives in order to get personal insurance information from the elderly.
  • Counterfeit/Prescription Drugs
    • Online prescription frauds are false advertisements for cheaper medication, used to get insurance and credit card information. 
  • Funeral & Cemetery Scams
    • Funeral and Cemetery services will take advantage of grieving families and claim that extra services (more expensive coffins, lots, and fees) are necessary in order to receive more money. It’s also common for scammers to read online obituaries and show up at a funeral demanding money from the family for fake outstanding debts from the deceased. 
  • Grandparent Scams
    • This dastardly popular scam takes advantage of elderly compassion and love for their grandkids. The scammer typically calls an elderly person pretending to be their grandchild (often by saying things like “grandma, guess who this is” when the senior first picks up, to get easy information about the grandchild they are impersonating without having to do any previous research) and acts as though they have just had an accident – a car wreck, house fire, etc. – and ask for money.
  • Sweepstakes & Lottery Scams
    • These frauds make calls to the elderly pretending that they have just won the lottery, but don’t have the funds to pay the taxes for the prize money. The supposed ‘winners’ then say that they are willing to give the senior citizens a percentage of the winnings, if they will pay the tax on the fake jackpot. 

As a general rule for everyone regardless of age, never give insurance, credit card, social security, or bank account numbers to anyone over the phone. Protect yourself from potential fraud by learning more about current scams on https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes. Stay safe!


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