Scams Targeting Seniors
Watch For These Types Of Messages And Interactions To Help Protect Your Finances And Sensitive Information From Scammers
Scammers target seniors more aggressively than any other group. Recognizing the most common scams helps prevent your money and personal information from getting stolen.
When someone contacts you, even someone you think you can trust, it’s wise to check for some common red flags.
Pressure to Act Quickly: Scammers know that if you do your research, you’ll see through the scam. To prevent this, they will often pressure you to respond quickly. They might do this by claiming they have a warrant for your arrest, threatening that you’ll lose access to your account, saying that a loved one is in trouble, or something similar.
Requesting Money, Particularly in Unusual Ways: Scammers will often ask for wire transfers, gift cards, or cash to prevent you or your financial institution from tracing or canceling the transaction.
Asking For Sensitive Information: Scammers try to collect sensitive information like passwords or social security and account numbers. Legitimate companies you already have a relationship with will never ask for this data in full. If it is a new relationship you are establishing, do your research first and ensure the information you are sending is secure.
If you encounter a situation that seems odd but doesn’t raise one of these red flags, trust your gut! Hang up, don’t reply, do your research, and get an outside opinion from someone you trust. Remember that scammers are trying to manipulate you, so be wary of sending anyone money, even if the person asking is someone you know.
Scammers are constantly updating their tactics, but here are a few of the most common scams targeting seniors:
Medicare Scams: A fraudster claims to represent Medicare and asks for the victim’s sensitive information. They then use it to bill Medicare for services never provided. In a similar scam, scammers will advertise or provide medical services that are fraudulent and then bill Medicare to cover them.
Grandparent Scams: The victim receives a call, email, or message on social media from someone impersonating a loved one, usually a grandchild. The imposter then claims that they’re in some kind of trouble and asks for money.
Debt Collector or IRS Scams: A scammer contacts the victim claiming to be a debt collector or representative of the IRS who needs to collect money owed by the victim or their loved one. In another version of this scam, a fraudster reaches out to the family members of someone who recently passed away and claims that they are now liable for their debts.
Romantic Scams: A con artist deceitfully forms a relationship online—often to the point that the victim considers them to be a romantic partner. The scammer will then ask for money in a lump sum or smaller amounts over a longer period of time. Usually, they claim this money will be used to support them, cover an emergency expense, or pay for them to travel.
Lottery or Prize Scams: The victim receives a notification that they won a prize, often a cash award or a luxurious vacation. The victim is then asked to pay the taxes or a processing fee in order to receive their award. This scam may even come with a check that will eventually bounce once the victim deposits it but by then, the scammer is long gone.
Tech Support or Antivirus Scams: Victims get a popup, call, or email from someone claiming that there’s a virus on their device. The scammer says they can fix it by accessing the device or installing antivirus software. Once that happens, the charlatan steals the user’s sensitive data.
Investment Scams: Scammers offer investment opportunities that are far riskier than they let on. Thieves may also claim to be financial advisors and, once they have access to the victim’s account, steal their money rather than invest it.
To learn more about common scams, ways to avoid them, and what to do if you encounter one, read this article about recognizing and avoiding scams or visit FTC.gov.
If you feel you may be a target of a scam or would like more information about how to protect yourself better, please contact First Source at 315-735-8571 to report any activity that might seem suspicious to our Member Care Center. You can also visit our Identity Protection page to learn additional ways to keep your information and accounts safe.
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This article has been adapted from Banzai in partnership with First Source FCU.