There are many wonderful things about getting older and retiring, however there are also obstacles seniors must learn to navigate. One of the most prominent issues with seniors is being the victim of scams. Seniors are often targeted because they are thought to have a lot of savings for retirement, were raised to be polite and trusting, may not have a strong understanding of technology, or may have memory difficulties.
All of these factors can make them more susceptible.
Common Scams Targeting Seniors
Here are a few scams that seniors and their families should be alert for:
- IRS Scams
Scammers may harass seniors claiming to be the IRS and make threatening calls trying to collect on unpaid back taxes. They try to obtain personal information and may threaten arrest, lawsuits, or other consequences. There has been recent crackdowns and arrests on these types of scams. The Senate Committee on Aging estimates that nearly 1 million people have be targeted and 5,000 people lost $26 million last year.
You should know that when the IRS wants to legitimately contact you, they will first correspond via postal mail and never request payment information over the phone or threaten arrest for non-payment.
- Phone Scams
Phone scams in general are common. Callers often request sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, bank account information, credit card numbers, account passwords, and more.
Seniors should be reminded to never share personal or financial information over the phone, even if it seems legitimate. Always double-check sources or ask family members to check legitimacy.
- Prescription Drug Scams
It is not uncommon for seniors to take one or more prescription drugs. Depending on their insurance coverage and financial situation, they may go online looking for cheaper options. While some of these sources are legitimate, others are scams offering counterfeit drugs or may take payment without ever delivering the prescription.
You should only take prescriptions obtained through reputable sources.
- Technology Scams
Seniors are newer to using technology than younger generations and do not always have a strong grasp on the how-to’s. Scammers may call claiming to help with a non-existent virus on their computer or needing access to an account to make adjustments. They may also require high payments to complete these “fixes” and scam seniors out of a lot of money when nothing is actually wrong.
Additionally, these technology scams may look like pop-up browser windows simulating virus-scanning software. These fool their victims into either downloading a fake anti-virus program (at a substantial cost) or an actual virus that will open up whatever information is on the user’s computer to scammers.
- Grandparent Scams
Scammers are not above bringing family into the equation either. Seniors may receive calls claiming to be from a grandchild asking for money for rent, bail, tuition, or other needs. They often request that the money is wired. Seniors should check first with other family members to ensure that the request is legitimate before sending any money. Scammers may use personal information they find on social media to make calls sound more genuine.
There are also a variety of other investment, email, charity, and funeral scams that can occur as well. It is important that seniors stay alert and educated about potential risks. For example, friends may recommend a terrific investment advisor, however, they may in fact be part of a pyramid scheme. You will know this if the return on investment promised is more that what the market is currently doing.
Family members should also check in regularly with older adults to see if they have received suspicious phone calls or emails, and carefully monitor their bank account for suspicious or fraudulent activity.
Always Best Care provides companionship and home helper services that can keep your senior safer. Having someone there to answer the phone or door, or be there with your senior during certain times of the day can help them to make more sound decisions and reduce their risk of being victim to a scam. For more information about Always Best Care and how your senior can benefit from in-home care and senior services, call David Baim (267) 217-7059 Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.