It seems like scams are everywhere these days. From phone scams to Internet scams, fraudsters are aggressive when it comes to stealing a buck from unsuspecting people. Unfortunately, many scammers heavily target the most vulnerable in our communities: older people. It’s a shame that this type of fraudulent activity is so popular, but it’s always good to be aware of these scams targeting seniors.
Phone scams are popular because many older people use the phone as their primary communication method. Though some seniors are learning how to use email these days, the phone is still the number one way that most seniors communicate with loved ones.
Most often, scammers will be the ones to call an unsuspecting older victim. There are many types of stories they will tell, but the easiest way to spot a scam is if there is a request for money. The scammer may say that he or she is the grandchild of the victim and he or she is in trouble, but it’s important that the victim not tell the parents of the grandchild. The scammer will then ask that the victim wire money into an account. Unfortunately, this scam may be hard to catch right away, especially if the caller is a convincing grandchild.
Other scammers may call and catch the victim off-guard by claiming they are a son or daughter who needs the victim’s social security number really quickly and depending on how desperate they sound, the victim may not have time to think about why they should or shouldn’t give out that information.
Another common phone scam involves the caller announcing to the victim that they won the lottery or sweepstakes, but they will need to pay a fee in order to get the money. This is simply not true. If you are the winner of a lottery or sweepstakes, you should not have to pay any amount of money in order to collect your award.
Email scams can sometimes be very similar to phone scams except that the communication method is written as opposed to verbal. Usually, there is a request for money or sensitive information such as a password to an account or a social security number. Sometimes the email will ask the victim to verify or update personal information. This information may be used fraudulently to open new accounts under the victim’s name, or even to steal money right from a bank account.
As your loved one prepares for his or her future, he or she may be considering how to increase income if they are past retirement. Oftentimes, this means investing. Unfortunately, there are many fraudsters out there who want to scam seniors out of their hard earned money by asking them to pay into bogus investments. An example of this would be a pyramid scheme. If your loved one is trusting a financial advisor who seems less-than-trustworthy, it may be time to do the research on where the money is really going.
Dating App Scams
Dating app scams are some of the newer scams out there, but the premise is still the same: to steal money or valuable information from vulnerable people. In the case of dating apps, most people are using them to find love or companionship, which can make unsuspecting victims easy prey for fraudsters who promise a happy future. Many times, these scammers will court the victim by having long phone conversations or sending romantic messages. They will make the victim feel safe and loved as the scammer establishes trust. Then, the scammer will ask for money because he or she is stuck in an international location without a passport or way to get home. Usually, the story is that his or her passport and wallet was stolen. The unsuspecting victim may fall prey to this scam and wire money to an unfamiliar account before the scammer disappears, never to be seen or heard from again.
What To Do if You Suspect a Scam Targeting Seniors
It’s important to monitor your senior loved one’s finances if possible. If you suspect that they are the victim of a scam, find out the source and make sure that the funds are cut off from the scammer.
Remind your loved one that if they receive a call or email of any kind that requests money or valuable personal information, they should wait and speak to you or a trusted friend or relative about the nature of the communication. At no point should they wire money or give credit card information to someone who calls them first.
If your loved one is on a dating app, remind them that they should be cautious of anyone they have never met in person or who seems to always be traveling Internationally. All real, trusting relationships are developed over time, and it’s very difficult to find true love by simply sending messages. It’s a good idea to have regular communication with your loved one regarding their involvement with others they meet on apps.
There is peace-of-mind in knowing that your loved one is cared for and safe from the lies of these types of scammers. Sometimes that comes with just knowing there is someone there helping your loved one around the house. If you are looking for in-home caregiving for your senior loved one, contact us to learn more about our caregiving and nursing services. We look forward to serving you!
Markey, C. (2019, February 17). Fraud, Scams and Identity Theft The Problem is Massive and Getting Worse. The Seniors’ Answer.
Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors. (2018, April 26). Retrieved from https://www.ncoa.org/economic-security/money-management/scams-security/top-10-scams-targeting-seniors/