common scams that target the elderly

7 Common Scams That Target the Elderly: Be Prepared

Matty Byloos Elderly News Leave a Comment

Don’t Become an Unfortunate Statistic

If you’re a senior citizen, then you’re much more likely to become a victim of fraud. Scammers target mature adults because they often have accumulated substantial wealth over their lifetimes, and some seniors don’t report being scammed because they’re too embarrassed to admit that they’ve been taken for a ride.

The last thing you need is to have your financial situation compromised in your golden years by opportunistic fraudsters. Don’t become a statistic – make sure you and your loved ones keep an eye out for these types of scams.

The “You’re a Winner!” Scam

We’d all love to have a spare million dollars in our bank accounts. But what if you had to pay a couple of nominal fees to process your prize? On the surface, paying $500 to unlock a substantial windfall might seem like a prudent investment, but the problem is – the sweepstakes is fictitious. Instead, the scammers simply take the “processing fee” and disappear.

Medicare Fraud of the Elderly

If you received a call from a representative from your health insurance provider, you’d probably take that call seriously. After all, without Medicare or health insurance, you’d have to pay out of pocket for your medications, and that would get expensive rather quickly.

If someone claiming to represent your health insurance provider calls and asks for your personal information, tell them you’ll call back later, but don’t call the number they provide. Look it up for yourself, then call and report a possible scam.

Snake Oil Scams That Target Senior Citizens

For many, the idea of some elusive fountain of youth is very appealing. Who wouldn’t want to be 25 again, or at least feel more vigorous and youthful? And if you were suffering from chronic pain, then you might be willing to try anything to keep it at bay. But if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Be wary of advertisements for cure-all panaceas the doctors supposedly don’t want you to know about. There’s probably a good reason your physician hasn’t recommended them before.

Online Cons

For tech-savvy seniors, the Internet offers plenty of great opportunities to connect with the outside world. You can keep up with friends and family, order yourself a smart new outfit from the comfort of home, and enjoy funny videos of other people’s pets without having to worry about taking care of an animal. But being online may also bring you into contact with some dubious characters, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Online scams are varied and sundry, but a few common ones involve pop-up windows that try to scare you into paying to remove a nonexistent computer virus, emails asking you to verify your personal information, and sweet-heart scams wherein a fraudster will attempt to build a relationship with you so they can cajole you into sending money for some made-up emergency. Stay alert, and don’t fall for these schemes.

Shady Financial Advisors Seeking Elderly Clients

If you’ve been fortunate enough to accumulate a substantial nest egg to enjoy in your retirement years, guard it carefully. Many investments provide an excellent ROI, but you have to be picky when choosing a financial advisor. Go with someone who comes highly recommended by your peers or by someone you trust, and make sure you or your family members read online to see what other customers have to say about their experiences.

Also, pay close attention to your monthly statements. Even at reputable firms, one bad actor can deplete your life savings.

The Relative in Need Scam

If you have grandkids, then you know that sometimes it can be difficult to guess whom you’re speaking with on the phone. In this scam, an individual posing as a grandchild or other relative might call and say, “ Hey Grandpa. Can you guess who this is?” Your guess will be quickly confirmed, with the eventual goal of hitting you up for money.

You should also know that some of these scammers are quite sophisticated, and may mine your social media accounts for personal information they can use to lend credibility to their assumed identities. Always set your social media profiles to private, and don’t accept requests from people you don’t actually know.

The Tech Support Con

For those of us who are getting on in years, using technology can be a bit intimidating. Unless you’re a retired computer programmer, the inner workings of your home computer might seem pretty mysterious.

You might receive a call from someone posing as a tech support rep from a legitimate company such as Microsoft or Apple. This person may try to convince you that even if your computer seems fine, it’s actually infected with a dire piece of malicious software. To fix it, they’ll need to install some software that allows them to operate your computer remotely.

If you get an unexpected call like this, don’t follow the caller’s directions! Once they’ve taken control of your computer, they’ll attempt to hold your data hostage until you’ve paid a substantial fee.

Elderly, Beware: You’re Nobody’s Fool

As P.T. Barnum used to say, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Show those scammers that you’re not one of them. Stay vigilant for possible scams, and report any fraud attempts you encounter. Who knows? Your sharp wits may end up saving some vulnerable person down the line from being taken by a swindler.


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