If you have ever received a phone call or email that just didn’t seem right, you may have just missed a scam. Unfortunately, seniors often fall victim to cunning crooks who set their sights on a more polite and unsuspecting generation. The FBI notes that con artists often choose to go after aging adults because seniors make poor witnesses and have a large nest egg with excellent credit; these qualities make it too hard for a dishonest crook to resist.
The best way to steer clear of these senior focused scams is to keep up on which scams are common in your area, as well as to make it a habit to check with trusted family members or friends before giving out any personal information over the phone or computer. To help arm you with information, check out a few scams that target the elderly, and discover how to report them.
Some scams involve money, while others involve identity or insurance theft. For especially savvy con artists, Medicare scams can bring in the opportunity to gain personal information from unsuspecting seniors as well as possible income from fraudulent billing. According to the National Council on Aging, Medicare scams often start with a phone call from a “Medicare representative” asking for personal information. However, real Medicare representatives rarely call to gain information; they should already have those personal details on file.
Grandchild in Distress Scams
Scams that involve a phone call from a grandchild on vacation who is in distress, or an email from a far away loved one requesting money, are especially sneaky as they capitalize on your love for your family. Crooks play on those emotions to get seniors to wire large amounts of money to untraceable accounts. Steer clear of any phone calls who claim to be your grandchild or family friend. Instead of sending over money, call their parents instead to see if they are really in distress.
Lonely seniors often fall prey to scams that rely on a smooth talking stranger on the other end of the phone line. These con artists work hard to chat with seniors, earning their trust and eventually earning personal information that they can use for fraudulent purposes. Con artists can also call seniors to ask for wired money for charity purposes or for a product that will never be delivered.
Finally, con artists who are excellent with computer skills can often fast talk their way around seniors who may have less experience online. Whether asking for money via an email or convincing a senior to purchase bogus anti-theft software, internet con artists get personal information and money quickly and easily.
Also watch out for “Tech Support Scams.” Recently, scam artists are calling and claiming to be computer techs associated with well-known companies. They say they have detected a virus on your computer to trick you into giving them remote access or paying for software you don’t need.
How to Report Scams
If you believe that you were scammed, or if you believe that someone was attempting to scam you, it is important that you report it immediately. Local police departments have senior fraud divisions who keep up with scams that are trending in the area. Be sure that you call your local police department to let them know the details of what happened. You can also call your Senior Services Agency or Adult Protective Services. Whatever you do, don’t skip reporting it; your situation can help others.