Forgot Password?

In the technological age we currently live in, it can be difficult for older adults to keep up. Whether it be learning how to use a computer or cell phone, it can seem like a daunting task. On top of learning to use technology, there are scams targeted at the elderly which seek to take advantage of them. Most elderly folks didn’t grow up with the types of scams and schemes we encounter today. Even if you’re tech-savvy, it can be difficult to catch on to many of the data breaches and schemes that are present. Below, we will go over a few of the scams that look to take advantage of older generations. 

Common Scams Targeting The Elderly

Social Security – Many elderly individuals live on a fixed income. In addition, for many older people their main source of income is their Social Security check. An individual may receive a call or e-mail from someone claiming to work for the Social Security Administration. This “staffer” will attempt to obtain personal information or money from the victim. The elderly may be informed that there is an issue with their account or that they are owed money from the SSA. Both tactics are employed to try and extract sensitive information. 

If you received a phone call from the entity that supplies you with your main source of income, you can see where it would be easy to comply with their requests. Never give out personal information over the phone or through e-mail unless you know it is 100% legitimate. If you feel unsure, hang up and call the Social Security Administration yourself. 

Lottery Or Sweepstakes – In a similar vein to the Social Security scam, a criminal may prey on the elderly’s financial situation claiming that they have won or could win a jackpot. The person on the other end of the line (or e-mail) may say that they have to collect taxes or fees in order to receive the prize. These scams can even go so far as to send you a fraudulent check that you need to deposit, afterward sending back a portion of the money. Any variation of this scheme is intended to obtain money or bank information. As nice as winning a jackpot would be, never deposit a check from an unknown source or divulge any personal information. 

Tech Support – An “IT support” technician contacts the elderly to tell them that their computer has been infected with a virus. This “technician” will then coerce you to allow them remote access to your device. Once they have access, the thief will search your computer for files containing important information or they may request to be paid for their services. The average loss in this type of scheme is $500. Never allow access to your devices or provide payment to an IT technician, unless it was you who made the initial call to the support number provided with your computer.

Romance – This scam targets lonely elderly folks who may be looking for companionship or love. A message will be received on social media or through a dating site which is intended to start up a dialogue. The scammer may pretend like they are someone from your past that you may not remember, otherwise known as “catfishing”. If they are convincing enough, the scammer and the elderly individual may start chatting frequently and creating a bond. 

These online relationships can continue on for weeks or months, until the elderly (though this happens to people of all ages) feels comfortable with them. They may even speak on the phone daily until the elderly feel like they truly know the person on the other end. Eventually, the “friend” will ask for money. It may be for a medical procedure or for travel expenses to come visit you. In the instance of money for travel, the friend will come up with an excuse as to why they couldn’t make it. They may even try and ask for money again in the future. In this scenario, the person being catfished will not only be out money, but they will have to suffer with heartbreak as well. This is one of the most common scams targeted at the elderly. Never give money to someone you’ve never met in person. 

Grandparent – You may receive a call from your “grandchild” asking for money to deal with an emergency. Often, these calls will happen in the middle of the night and be very fast-moving and frantic. It may not sound exactly like your grandson or granddaughter, but the thief could have done an internet search on your real grandchild. They can cobble together a fairly believable story so that you will send them money. Being that you don’t want to leave your “grandchild” in peril, you succumb to the pressure. Never give money to someone who calls you. Your best plan of action is to hang up and call your grandchild back or call a relative who may know more than you.

Natural Disasters – In an especially disturbing scam, thieves may target elderly people who have been affected by a natural disaster. “Contractors” will go door-to-door providing services to help correct damage sustained in a natural disaster. They may even offer you an amazing deal. However, they will require up-front payment and promise to start working tomorrow or in a few days. Never pay someone who comes to your house unsolicited, especially before the work has been done. Instead, call a reputable contractor on your own.

Tips For Keeping The Elderly Safe

  • Never give out personal information to unknown sources.
  • Do not give money to anyone who you’ve never met or who shows up unsolicited.
  • If you are a child managing your parent’s finances, don’t be afraid to seek help. Keeping track of your own finances as well as a parent’s can be very time-consuming and stressful. You may consider hiring a daily money manager to help keep your parent’s finances in line and alert you of any suspicious activity. 
  •  If your parent has a caregiver, be sure and keep a close eye on their finances. Also, you will want to ensure that all sensitive documentation in their house is safely secured. Before you hire a caregiver, make sure you hire through a licensed, bonded and insured agency. Also, require a background check be performed before the hire. Caregiver fraud is a very serious issue. 
  • Report any scams that you or your elderly friends and family may encounter. The more these scams are reported, the easier it is for authorities to track down the culprits. 

It is unfortunate that there are scams targeted at the elderly, but it seems thieves will take advantage any way they can. Keeping the elderly informed on the types of schemes they may be subjected to can go a long way in keeping their personal information and financial freedom safe.

A Free Guide on How To Secure Your Identity & Protect Your Data