Scams are becoming universal. You’ve probably experienced a few suspect calls, emails, or texts yourself. Typically, the attempt to get you to disclose sensitive information or download malware. However, there are some types of fraud that target the elderly specifically. Older Adults are susceptible to phone scams, mail scams and may be unfamiliar with social media privacy settings.
These are six types of elder fraud and tips to avoid falling victim:
Tell us if this sounds familiar. You receive a phone call, email, or online message that says you just won a jackpot. Before you can receive your prize, you’ll have to pay a small fee to cover the taxes, fees, or to verify your banking information. Another common technique used for this type of scam is for the scammer to send you a fake check for you to deposit before sending a portion of it back. These types of scams are tricky because they can take on the names of legitimate contests. The best thing you can do is stay away from schemes that tell you that paying is required to claim your prize.
A scammer calls posing as a tech support representative and tells you your computer has a virus. They ask you to give them remote access to your computer and then they search your files or ask for payment in exchange for their services. The best way to avoid this scam is to only contact the support that comes with your device.
This scam involves one of your “grandchildren” calling you and talking in a distressed manner about some sort of emergency that requires you to give them cash quickly. Typical explanations include needing money to get out of trouble with the law, a medical emergency, or being stranded somewhere. The scammer asks you to swear you won’t tell his/her parents. You may also notice the voice is distorted which the scammer may explain away as bad reception or a broken phone. This scam is dangerous because it appeals to emotions and the fact that grandparents would do anything to take care of their grandchildren. If you receive a call like this hang-up and call your grandchild or a relative close to them directly to check on them.
You receive a message on social media or an online dating website one day from someone claiming to be an old classmate of yours. The scammer will then proceed to stay in contact for weeks or even months building a relationship with you through email or phone. After a while, the scammer asks for money to help them with a medical bill or to travel to you. This type of scam is very popular and dangerous. It’s not uncommon for victims to lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars falling for it.
Social Security issue
Somebody claiming they’re calling on behalf of Social Security contacts you trying to get personal information or money from you. This is usually done by claiming there is an issue with your account, your Social Security number is being suspended because of illegal activity, or you are owed a benefit increase. These types of calls often come with threats of benefit suspension, legal action, or pressure to send money. Not sure if the call is legitimate? Hang up and dial the official Social Security Administration number, 1 (800) 772-1213 and speak with a real representative. You can also report Social Security phone scams to the SSA Inspector General online at oig.ssa.gov. Visit identitytheft.gov/ssa for more tips.
This scam involves a fake contractor going door-to-door offering services to fix damage caused by a recent natural disaster. They attempt to collect money for their non-legitimate service via instant payments using cash or check. Once payment is received the scammer will promise to start work the very next day only to never be seen again. You can avoid this scam by refusing their services and hiring your own contractor.
Learn more about reporting fraud at FTC.gov/complaint and corebank.com/cybersecurity.