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Fraud Prevention: Watch Out for Scams Targeting the Elderly

June 7, 2024

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month. And, unfortunately, the number of scams targeting seniors is rising rapidly. That’s because scammers believe those 60 and older have more money, are more willing to trust people, and are less willing to report crimes against them. Here are some common elder scams and how you can stop them from happening to you or your elderly parents, friends, and neighbors.

 Types of elder abuse scams

Government Imposter Scams

When the IRS, Social Security Administration, or another federal government agency calls, texts, or emails, people listen. But these agencies will not contact you using these methods.

However, scammers pretending to be from a government agency will. They may pretend to be the IRS and tell you that you owe unpaid taxes and must pay up immediately. They may even threaten to deport immigrants or warn that Social Security or Medicare benefits may be cut off if you don’t pay money immediately. Don’t fall for it and don’t pay anything!

Lottery or Prize Scams

We all dream of winning the lottery, but for seniors who’ve been tricked into believing they’ve won, it’s a nightmare. In this type of fraud, scammers may call, email, or text you to inform you that you won money or a prize. They then ask for your personal information, such as your Social Security or bank account number to collect the prize. In some cases, they may ask for a fee to cover processing. Don’t fall for it!

Tech Support Scams

Those with limited knowledge of computers and cybersecurity are prime targets for scammers. In this type of scam, you may get a pop-up message telling you that you have a dangerous virus or other problem with your device. The message then prompts you to call a support number that connects you to a scammer. The scammer may ask you to give remote access to your computer, ask for personal information, or demand that you provide a credit card number to pay to fix the computer. If you or someone you know receives such a message, disconnect from the internet immediately and restart your device.

Grandparents Scam

We all know that grandparents would do anything for their grandchildren. Scammers know it, too, and have devised a scam that preys on that kindness. In this scam, they call grandparents pretending to be grandchildren in desperate need of help. They may say they’ve been arrested or experienced a car breakdown and need you to send cash or provide a credit card or other form of payment immediately. If you receive such a call, hang up immediately!

Tips to avoid senior scams

  • Hang up on suspicious callers.
  • Don’t click on email links or download files from senders you don’t know.
  • Never provide your personal or credit card information to someone you don’t know online, by phone, through email, on social media, or anywhere else.
  • Beware of calls, emails, or any other communication that tells you to send money or act immediately.
  • Install and update security software on your computers and phone.

How to report elder abuse

If you or an elderly person in your life believes you have been the target of an elder abuse scam, contact the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1.833.372.8311. You can also report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission or contact your local police department. If you believe your financial or personal information has been compromised, contact us immediately at (number).

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