Why are seniors such a common target of con artists looking for quick cash? Seniors have more savings. Seniors are more trusting. Seniors have a limited understanding of technology. Because of cognitive decline, seniors can’t handle the situation quickly enough.
It is estimated that American adults lose $2.9 billion to scammers and fraudsters. However, the number could be much higher because some seniors suffer in silence or are too ashamed to report the crime.
Besides chipping away lifetime savings, financial loss can affect their overall health and wellness, leaving them stressed and blaming themselves for a long time. That’s why we are here today to help you protect your seniors from being scammed. Discover the top 10 scams targeting seniors and scam prevention for seniors your parents can use to keep their money intact.
Scam Prevention for Seniors: A Comprehensive Guide To Help Seniors Avoid Scams, Fraud, and Financial Abuse
Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors
Find below for the full assortment of the top 10 common scams targeting seniors.
- The Grandparent Scam: A Grandparent scam is a simple scam that can catch any senior off guard because scammers will disguise themselves as grandchildren in distress. It usually starts with “Hi Grandma/Grandpa, do you know who this is?” followed by a brief story about them being in some sort of unexpected financial situation to lure seniors into wiring them money, such as getting into an accident or having rent due.
- Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams: This is a classic scam that calls unsuspecting retirees to announce that they have won a fake lottery or sweepstakes. Sounds too good to be true? However, the offer comes with the condition that they must pay a sum of money under the disguise of custom duties, fees, or taxes upfront to collect their prizes.
- Email Scams and Phishing: This is another classic type of scam that involves emails posing as a reputable company and requesting personal information from seniors. The emails will distribute viruses to elicit usernames and passwords.
- Telemarketing Scam: While telemarketing phone calls are harmless, scammers, under the disguise of telemarketers, often pressure seniors into purchasing goods that benefit their health, such as supplements and anti-aging products. However, these products might not be legitimate, which can be harmful to health.
- Insurance Scams: In this type of scam, scammers will pretend to be insurance representatives and introduce retirees to good insurance deals, such as health insurance, auto insurance, and life insurance.
- Deals of Prescription Scams: By exploiting seniors’ high demand for cheaper prescriptions, scammers will reach out to seniors to offer seemingly good deals on counterfeit prescriptions and medications.
- Charity Scams: In such scams, scammers take advantage of seniors’ golden hearts by calling them through the phone or sending emails requesting money in the name of good causes.
- Fake Investment Opportunities: Another common scam that most seniors fall for is investment schemes. These scammers will introduce seniors to investment opportunities with high returns. They create a sense of urgency to trap seniors quickly by claiming that this is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
- The IRS Scam: In the IRS scam, scammers will impersonate IRS agents or government officials, threatening seniors to pay outstanding tax money or else they will be arrested.
- Romance Scams: Although uncommon, romance scams are a form of fraud that targets recently widowed seniors. The imposters create fake social media profiles (Facebook and Instagram) and approach seniors to gain their trust and affection over time, only to steal their money and other financial assets.
Scam Prevention for Seniors: How To Protect Seniors From Scams
Learn About It
Increasing seniors’ scam awareness is a good starting point to protect them from con artists. When seniors learn to distinguish dubious activities, they have already won half of the battle.
Compile a list of warning signs to watch out for in certain scam activities. For example, the Grandparent scam can be spotted when the other person frequently says, “Hi, Grandpa/Grandma, do you know who this is?” and then fabricates a story about needing a large sum of money to pay for rent, etc. In the IRS scam, remind your parents that no government officials will ever contact them directly through phone calls.
Is being skeptical a bad thing? It depends. However, when it comes to fending off scams and frauds, being more skeptical can save seniors big time from massive financial loss.
Remind your parents to stay vigilant and think twice about the deals when someone reaches them out of the blue. In most cases, a good sense of skepticism is the best defense against shady behaviors and suspicious activities.
Remind your parents that it is completely OK to ignore sweet online messages from people they don’t interact with in real life.
Don’t Share Private Information
Another scam prevention for seniors that works all the time is never sharing private information.
Remind your seniors that no government or representatives from legitimate banks ask for private information. It means don’t give out sensitive information, such as ID numbers, banking passcodes, PINs, and OTPs, at all costs, through phone calls, text messages, and emails.
Even if seniors adhere strictly to the rule, their information is still exposed to a greater risk of being stolen while browsing the Internet. So, caution your parents not to click on random links or use social media to sign up for new accounts.
Opt for Security Measures
Setting up strong passwords and considering installing 2-factor authentication are two practical tips for seniors to avoid being scammed. Even if your parents dodge the advice and nag about who is even interested in hacking their accounts, the possibilities are never zero.
Instead of having a password of chronological number and alphabetical order, help your parents create strong passwords, update privacy and security settings, and use a reputable application to store credentials.
Facebook allows users to only receive friend requests from people they may know or share mutual friends with. Make sure they use different passwords for different accounts.
Make Use of Anti-Fraud Tools
Leaning on anti-fraud tools is an effortless way to safeguard your seniors from financial abuse. As phone calls are the most common means scammers use to prey on seniors, put your parents’ contact on the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry.
Divert unknown callers to voicemail. Explain to your parents that if it is a genuine call, they will have no problem leaving a message because most scammers only reach out once. Contact your parents’ wireless carriers to opt for a blocking service available at a minimal fee.
Installing antivirus software on your parents’ computers is a crucial step to add extra protection to their cyber endeavors. Remind your parents not to mindlessly click on links or pop-up ads because these might infect viruses that steal their information. When checking a mailbox, confirm the authenticity of the sender’s email address before proceeding with anything. Always practice logging out after using the websites.
Acquiring assistance from a power of attorney is a brilliant legal solution to help your parents keep their assets secure and make big financial decisions, especially when they suffer from health conditions that cause poor judgment and understanding.
Draft A Refusal Script
While younger people can smell fishiness from the moment they pick up the phone, most seniors can’t. Besides the fact that it is far easier to persuade seniors, scammers exploit seniors’ overly friendly nature to lure them into the trap. Some are too nice to hang up blatantly. Others become overwhelmed and don’t know what to say when someone’s approaching them with a big offer.
So, telling your parents to hang up right off won’t probably work. Instead, make a list of refusal statements, such as “I don’t do business over the phone,” “Sorry, I’m busy making dinner, so can’t talk right now,” or “I gotta check this with my son, who is a police officer.” and so on. Tape the list next to the phone and tell your parents that they can use any of these to end the phone if they don’t know how to respond during these calls.
Shop With Responsibility
Online shopping must be the greatest invention of the century. It allows people to shop many things right from their homes. More and more seniors are keen on online shopping because they no longer have to venture out or queue in long lines to get groceries and essentials.
While online shopping is fun and convenient, seniors may be at higher risk of scam activities, with scammers selling counterfeit products through fake profiles and websites. Encourage your parents to only shop online from reputable sites, use credit cards, and keep a close eye on monthly statements.
Report As Soon As Possible
There is a network of organizations and structures dedicated to supporting seniors in reporting scams and fraud. Here are some prevention tips and resources your parents can rely on when suspecting crimes:
- National Adult Protective Services Association
- National Center on Elder Abuse
- Eldercare Locator
- Elder Justice
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center
- National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
If you have questions about scam prevention for seniors or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks Senior Living Communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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