Older adults are often targets of phone or online scams. Fortunately, becoming aware of the types of scams out there can help reduce your risk of being scammed. If you know the signs to look out for, you will be less likely to fall for a scheme that can lead to a financial loss and emotional distress. Take a look at the latest scams that older adults need to know about to protect yourself and your family.
Many scammers use strategies that involve posing as government workers. They may call and say they are from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Social Security Administration, or Medicare and claim that you have outstanding debt or threaten you with arrest or deportation if you don’t provide personal information or payment. Government agencies will not initiate contact with individuals via phone calls, emails, or text messages requesting personal or financial information. If you receive a phone call from an “official government agency” asking for your personal information, you should report the scam. Learn more about reporting government scams
Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams
Sweepstakes and lottery scammers will call, email, or send a letter saying you won a sweepstakes, lottery, or prize. Then, they will ask that you send money up front to cover the taxes and processing fees of the prize. Scams like this can continue for weeks and months as the scammer may continue to call promising the prize will be delivered if more money is sent. Sadly, the prize will never show up. Most sweepstakes and lottery companies will not ask for money in advance for claiming a prize. If you are contacted with this type of request, it’s a red flag. Learn more about sweepstakes and lottery scams
The Grandparent Scam
This particularly cruel scam targets older adults by calling with the greeting, “Hi Grandma (Grandpa), do you know who this is?” pretending to be the grandchild of the victim. Once the older adult provides the name of a grandchild, the scammer impersonates that person and asks for money typically to cover some urgent financial need. In other instances, the con artist may pretend they are a lawyer, doctor, or police officer looking for money to help the grandchild in some emergency matter. If you hear someone suspicious claiming to be your grandchild, hang up immediately and call your grandchild or family member in question to make sure they’re safe. Learn more about the grandparent scam
The Computer Tech Scam
Computer tech scams occur when the victim sees a pop-up message on their phone or computer telling them there is an issue that needs to be fixed. The message will usually include a number to call for repairs from a virus. Once the victim calls, they will speak to someone who requests access to their computer and/or requests a payment for repairs to be made. These are tactics that can cause you to pay for repairs you don’t need and provide the person with access to your personal information. Generally, no one will reach out to you to tell you about computer repairs you don’t already know about. Learn more about computer tech scams
Get Help and Report
Being aware of the scams out there can help you keep your personal and financial information safe.
If you’ve encountered suspicious communications that sound like a scam, you can report anything you think may be a fraud or scam at: reportfraud.ftc.gov. If you believe you’ve been a victim of a scam, contact the free Consumer Law Project for Elders Hotline at 1-800-296-1467.