6 Scams That Prey on the Elderly

Dec 13, 2019 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

Many scams are universal, from the IRS imposter who calls and threatens to arrest you if you don’t pay your taxes, to phishing emails that trick you into sending sensitive data or downloading malware onto your computer. But some types of fraud target older adults specifically or affect them disproportionately. Older adults may fall for certain scams because they are in the habit of answering calls from unknown callers, open junk mail rather than tossing it in the trash, or are not as practiced with the privacy settings on social media as younger generations. Here are six scams your clients need to watch out for.

  1. Sweepstakes or lottery. Even if the contest carries a legitimate name, stay away from schemes that require you to pay to claim your prize. This was the third-most-reported scam in 2018, according to calls received by the Senate Aging Committee’s Fraud Hotline (IRS impersonation and robocalls took the top two spots).
  2. Tech support. Seek tech support only from the contact information provided with your devices. In 2018, people age 60 and older were about five times more likely to report losing money to these scams than were younger people, with a median loss of $500, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
  3. “Grandchild in need.” The con artist on the other end of the line may have extracted enough details about your grandchild from the internet, such as his or her name, city and school, to weave together a believable story. Hang up and call your grandchild or an in-the-know relative to check in.
  4. Romance scam. The seducer may spend weeks or months building a relationship over phone and email, then ask for money—perhaps to help him or her travel to you or to deal with medical issues.
  5. Social Security. The caller may threaten your benefits, suggest you’ll face legal action if you don’t provide information, or pressure you to send money. If you’re not sure whether a call is legitimate, don’t rely on your caller ID; hang up and call 800-772-1213 to speak with a real representative.
  6. National disasters and contractors. Fake contractors will go door-to-door offering fix-it services, often capitalizing on a recent natural disaster in the area. Ignore their offers and search for contractors on your own.

You can find the full article at Kiplinger.com.


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