The elderly are one of the most targeted groups of people for scams, fraud, and identity theft. Millions of senior citizens from around the world are victims of financial scams every year. Scammers and fraudsters target them because they’re unfamiliar with technology and are more likely to have nest eggs. In this article we will detail how to avoid common elderly financial scams.
It is very important, now more than ever, to understand how you or your loved ones may be a target. It is important to note that scammers can use technology to contact their victims. Some methods include telephone, email, social media, or even in person.
One of the most prevalent elderly scams is grandchild impersonation. This is where young people would pose as a grandchild when calling an elderly on the phone. Typically, they’ll say that they have been in an accident and need urgent money to pay for something. This may include treatment, injuries, or insurance.
The caller may also claim to be in trouble and that they need money fast for some emergency. In this case they will say that they don’t want their parents to know. The caller may also sound true to the elders since they use bits of information they collected from different sources such as social media sites. All of these factors can make the call appear genuine.
How to Avoid
Way Wiser Life recommends that you remind your elders to always confirm the identity of the person when they receive financial requests from anyone via phone or email. This is especially true when the person contacting them is an alleged family member.
Sweepstakes or Lottery Scams
Another common elderly financial scam is winning a surprise lottery or sweepstakes. It may sound like a dream come true, but it’s a very common way for scammers to target seniors.
If you receive a call or a message from a person claiming that you won a contest even though you’ve never entered, hang up. They will most likely ask you to pay so-called ‘taxes and fees’ so that you can claim your price.
How to Avoid
Let your elders know that legitimate texts and calls don’t ask for money or financial information from the recipient. Tell them to ignore these calls or texts and to never respond to them. Avoid giving out any kind of personal or financial information over the phone, text, or email.
Tech Support Fraud
Since the majority of seniors aren’t tech-savvy, they’re a common target of tech support fraud. Most of the time, scammers will pose as a legitimate company to request personal or financial information from seniors. They usually will say that they need to resolve an issue with their computer.
They’ll claim that they detected a threat on an elder’s computer and may ask for remote access or personal login information promising to resolve the issue. Once they are in they can easily obtain personal information like bank accounts, social security number, and more.
How to Avoid
Educate elders to know fraudulent tech support calls or emails exist. Also, install antivirus software on their computers. You might also want to educate your senior on how to use the computer better. It is also a good idea to inform them on how to spot fraudsters and scammers to prevent them from stealing personal or financial information from the computer. Tell your seniors to hang up the phone whenever someone claims that there’s a problem with their computer.
Scammers and fraudsters posing as romantic interests via social media or over the phone can take an emotional toll on seniors who are seriously looking for companionship. Sweetheart scams account for the biggest financial losses in seniors. Elderly people, especially widows, widowers, recent divorcees, and retired seniors become a victim of sweetheart scams when they go on social media or online dating sites to find a companion. There are even some seniors who fall victim to sweetheart scams in person.
In sweetheart scams, the scammer will devote a lot of time to woo the senior. They will then start asking for money to solve a financial problem. Scammers take the time to gain the trust of the senior and when they do, they’ll start asking for money from their victim.
In the worst case, a senior may end up sending money to the scammer a couple of times. The scammer will do this repeatedly until the victim realizes that they’re been swindled.
How to Avoid
Encourage seniors who engage in online dating to always set up a video call with their partners to confirm their identity. Also, always remind them to never offer financial help to a person they haven’t met in person.
How to Avoid Common Elderly Financial Scams – Summary
Elder abuse comes in different forms, and one of the most common types of it is elderly financial scams. Financial crimes against the elderly come in different forms which your loved ones should be aware of.
Governments from around the world are taking great strides to put an end to these elderly financial scams. However, there is still a long way to go. As such, you need to do your job in assisting and educating your elderly loved ones so they can be better protected against scams.