Scammers are everywhere and will try to get their clutches onto anyone they’re able to trick. From social media scams to healthcare fraud, every year millions of people become the victims of scams.
Senior citizens often end up as victims. The scams generally have heavy negative repercussions on the victims’ lives. It can be difficult, especially for the elderly, to bounce back if you’re caught by one of these scams.
Avoiding it is the best way to protect yourself.
Whether you’re a senior or want to protect your older family members, knowing how to tell a scam is one of the keys to maintaining your online safety.
Here’s what you need to know about avoiding scams targeted at seniors.
Why Are The Elderly Targeted?
Seniors are generally seen as a less tech-savvy group than younger generations, who are more familiar with newer technologies. Most of those who are tricked into scams are naive and unaware of these things.
Older citizens are more unlikely to be aware of certain signs and risks when a fraudster approaches them.
Unfortunately, scammers use this to their advantage and try to bank in on the higher likelihood of an elderly individual falling for one of their scams.
Be aware of the tactics scammers use when approaching a potential victim.
Scammers often approach the elderly through organizations, over phone calls, emails, texts, on social sites, or apps, etc.
Seniors who fall for scams can have their lives ruined.
There are companies, such as Waywiser, that provide services tailored to help seniors protect their assets from any risks. You can learn more here.
Scammers sometimes try to talk to their victims first.
They follow a script to make them sound friendly, relatable, and trustworthy. Once they feel they’ve gained some trust, they make their move.
If a stranger offers something that sounds too good to be true, it usually is. For example, scammers often promise great benefits but require you to do something or send them something valuable before they can act on their ‘promise.’
Asking for personal information, like banking details and identification, or asking for a fund transfer is an immediate red flag.
They may offer a service at a reasonable price and require you to sign a document that you later find out has compromised you in some way.
Another scam might be in an email telling you that you’ve inherited funds from a distant relative that you’ve never heard of, but they need your credit card information.
Elderly people, especially those in need, are more likely to fall for these scams.
Common Scams Targeting Seniors
Knowing the scams that are often targeted at seniors is an effective way to protect yourself or an elder loved one from falling victim to these scams.
These are some common scams to look out for.
- Healthcare: These scams involve receiving phone calls from people claiming there’s a problem with your healthcare company details, medical card, etc. Scammers are able to gather sensitive personal details with these calls.
- Funerals: Funeral scammers watch for any funerals and often approach the spouse or family of the deceased. They may come with documentation that looks legitimate, often claiming that the deceased owed money.
- Medical Alert Devices: Some scams may call senior citizens with promises of free medical alert devices. These devices are never free. It can be a scam if you or someone else is offered a free medical alert system.
- Senior Benefits. Calls from fake senior benefit companies, or someone pretending to be from a real one, are some of the oldest scams. These usually leave scammers with all of your sensitive information that they can use to steal from you.
- Charity Scams. Often appearing around holidays or after unfortunate events, these scams are more common than one might expect. It’s best to always check the legitimacy of a charity before donating any money.
Scammers are clever and always come up with new schemes. This list is just a few of the many scams out there, so remember to stay alert.
Some Final Tips To Follow
Some scams are easy to sense, but others may be very well planned. These are some extra tips to follow to avoid being scammed.
- Never give any information to someone that calls you. Legitimate companies don’t normally call you to ask for personal details.
- Always research the legitimacy of a company or charity.
- Contact the company a caller claims to be from if you suspect fraud. A call to a company official should be able to confirm whether a call was a scam.
- If something sounds too good, assume it’s a scam, and proceed with caution.
Seniors have worked hard for what they have had throughout their lives. Scammers will jump through hoops to trick the elderly out of their earnings. Fortunately, if we stay aware, we can help ourselves and others to avoid becoming the victims of these traps.
Olivia Hansley says
Misuse of Medicare dollars is one of the largest scams involving seniors. Common schemes include billing for services never delivered and selling unneeded devices or services to beneficiaries. Protect your Medicare number as you do your credit card, banking, and Social Security numbers, and do not allow anyone else to use it.
Aadarsh Roy says
Hey Sudipto Basu,
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After reading this complete guide i gain ideas and am sure that tis post will surely help lots of people & readers.
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ΗΛΕΚΤΡΟΛΟΓΟΣ ΠΑΤΡΑ ΑΝΔΡΙΟΠΟΥΛΟΣ ΑΝΔΡΕΑΣ says
1. Be aware that you are at risk from strangers—and from those closest to you
Over 90% of all reported elder abuse is committed by the older person’s own family members, most often their adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and others. Common tactics include depleting a joint checking account, promising but not delivering care in exchange for money or property, outright theft, and other forms of abuse, including physical abuse, threats, intimidation, and neglect of basic care needs. Everyone is at risk of financial abuse, even people without high incomes or assets. Understand the top 10 most common scams targeting seniors, so you can spot one before it’s too late.