Avoiding Senior Scammers
Any person can become a victim of a scam, regardless of age, income, or educational background. However, it is common for scammers to target seniors because they are perceived to have more wealth and report crimes less often.
Most of the time, seniors are home to answer the door or the phone. They may enjoy interacting with another person since they are often lonely. If they are presented with a sales pitch, they may be less skeptical and more trusting. It may appeal to seniors on fixed incomes to save money on medical care or receive a high return on investment. If they pay upfront for home repairs, they may fall victim to laborers who never complete the work.
Identifying a Potential Scam
- “Urgent” or “Final Deadline” sales that push a deadline.
- A repeated email or phone call that prompts a decision.
- Checks or deposits are demanded.
- Despite the lack of a written contract, signatures are requested.
- The website does not include contact information or an address.
- Anything too good to be true.
Older adults in the United States were scammed out of $1.7 billion through fraud schemes in 2021, a 74% increase from 2020. Below are some examples of current scams targeted at seniors.
Repair Scam: Technicians and contractors inflate repair prices by lying about the extent of the problem.
Lotteries and Sweepstakes Scam: In these scams, the victim thinks they have won a prize and just needs to pay tax or delivery fees.
The Grandparent or Emergency Scam: The scammer pretends to be the victim’s grandchild or family member in need of money.
Medicare Scams: Scammers pose as representatives of Medicare or Medicaid and ask for Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, or bank account numbers.
Social Security Scams: Scammers pretending to be Social Security Administration (SSA) employees attempt to collect personal information from seniors. According to the thief, they are updating your records and need your Social Security number, birth date, bank account number, and maiden name of your mother.
IMPORTANT: You will never be contacted by Medicare or the Social Security Administration for personal information. The Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (800 HHS-TIPS) can be contacted if you suspect fraud.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of elder fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline. 833–FRAUD–11 or 833–372–8311. This hotline is a free resource created by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office for Victims of Crime for people to report fraud against anyone age 60 or older.