5 Scams that Target Seniors

October 11, 2019
Comment Chloe

Scientific American reports a University of California, Los Angeles, study that suggests the older you get the more likely you are to trust a stranger. This is just one of many reasons that the elderly are acutely vulnerable to scams. This vulnerability is made worse by seniors’ isolation and lack of tech-savvy. A key to protecting yourself against scams is education about the kinds of scams that are out there.
Read on to discover the most common scams that target seniors. 

1. Telemarketing and Phone Scams 

Telemarketing fraud is frequently perpetrated against seniors. For example, the senior is advised that they have won a large amount of money. The catch is that they need to pay fees and taxes first. They then receive a check that does not clear.

It is safest to assume that the caller is a scammer until you can verify their identity. The best practice is to make purchases over the phone by calling the official number listed for the company. 

2. Tech Support Scams

Scammers can take advantage of seniors’ lack of tech literacy by tricking them into paying for unnecessary or nominal technical support services. This is one of the most common scams that target seniors. Scammers could initiate this by phone or spamming your browser with error messages. The main aim is often to obtain access to sensitive personal information or exploit you for fees. 

You should avoid using unsolicited tech support. If you have already given a scammer access to your computer, uninstall any applications that they have asked you to install and try resetting your device. 

3. Email Phishing Scams

A scam’s email address and contents are made to look like it is from a reputable company or agency. These emails commonly direct the recipient to a website where they are asked to provide personal banking or identifying information. 

Before clicking on any links in emails, you should ask yourself whether you recognize and have an account with the sender. If it is from a recognized sender, it is still safer to contact the authority directly about any purported issues with your account. For protection, install security software on your computer.

Related: How to Protect Yourself from Internet Scams

4. Social Security/Medicare Scams

These scams involve a scammer impersonating an agent from the government agency to gather personal information that they then use to claim for themselves. The scammer may alternatively say that you need to pay for supplemental coverage or owe a refund.

It is important to know that government agencies will not require you to provide personal details over the phone, particularly on an unsolicited phone call. Insist on calling the relevant agency department directly to verify the action requested. 

5. Investments Scam

Some scammers act as financial advisors to gain access to seniors’ savings. Investments scammers may give limited time to make an investment decision or entice the target with the promise of special deals and free gifts.

Pressure to commit within a short amount of time is a red flag. If contemplating an investment opportunity research whether there is a registry of investors available in your area. Obtain professional advice about the opportunity before providing any of your details.

Stay Alert

Remember that if you are a senior you are at greater risk of being targeted by scams. It is useful to know authorities you can contact in the event of a scam. Know the contacts for your bank, local police and the national authority that investigate elder abuse and exploitation.