A senior couple reads the newspaper together.
A senior couple reads the newspaper together.
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How To Protect Loved Ones From Senior Scams

Senior Man Giving Credit Card Details On The Phone

How To Protect Loved Ones From Senior Scams

October 22nd, 2021

While con artists frequently target older adults to steal money from their bank accounts, their efforts often increase as the holidays approach (when charities solicit donations and people tend to do more shopping online). Here we’ll share common scams to be aware of, along with ways to help protect your family members.


Never, Ever Share Financial Information

What most scams have in common is the request for personal information, such as a Social Security number, often combined with a threat of action if payment is not made right away. That’s why it’s important to never share any details over the phone that may be used to gain your financial information, such as your bank account, credit card number, or any passwords.


When in doubt, remember:

No legitimate company will ask for your personal information over the phone.


Of course, your doctor’s office will verify your name and date of birth when making appointments, but they won’t request payments to be made over the phone. The best course of action is to hang up immediately and call the agency or group that the caller claimed to be representing, if a request for personal information is made. Then you can verify if someone there is actually trying to contact you.


Stay Apprised of Senior Scams

Phone Scams

Most senior scams are done over the phone, since older adults may be less familiar with modern technology and tend to be more trusting than other age groups. Common scams that older adults encounter over the phone include imposters of trusted government agencies such as an IRS auditor, Medicare representative or COVID-19 vaccine distributor; fraudulent claims of lottery winnings; sellers of counterfeit prescription drugs; and charity scams (especially following natural disasters).


When in doubt, remember:

If an unknown person calls you asking for money, it’s best to hang up immediately.


An easy way to help prevent phone scams is to label all known contacts in your cell phone (or help your family members do this) so that their name appears when they call — if you don’t recognize the phone numbers, they are likely someone unknown, which is a sign it could be a scam. You can also download a free app to automatically block numbers that have been reported as scam callers (like Hiya or Whoscall).


Internet/Social Media Scams

Scammers also target seniors on the internet, so advise your older adult relatives not to download antivirus software without verifying its authenticity first. This is an easy way for con artists to access personal information through the computer. Other tech support scams include requests for updated financial information from a fake website or a wire transfer request from the email of someone you appear to know. Again, reach out to the organization directly if such a request is made.


When in doubt, remember:

If an email or pop-up window looks suspicious, it probably is. Delete it immediately.


Though it may seem innocent at first, since it’s not a direct request for money, asking for gift cards or electronic vouchers is another popular senior scam that should always be avoided. This is never a legitimate way to pay a fee or outstanding debt.


Emotional Scams

The worst senior scams are those that prey upon a senior’s love for their family members. This can include pretending to be a grandchild in need of help who doesn’t want anyone else to know, or a fake romantic interest (often located overseas). This particular type of scam is one of the most common scams for seniors, because it often takes place over a long period of time to establish trust before asking for money. Awareness is key so you know what to look out for — odd questions over the phone such as “Do you know who this is?” can tip off scammers with the name of a relative they can use to steal money. Unfortunately, scams tied to funerals are also common. Be wary of any calls about outstanding debt of a deceased loved one, or confusing funeral costs.


When in doubt, remember:

Never loan money to someone you’ve never met.


If you’re concerned that someone you know has been giving away their money in an unusual manner, even if they don’t appear to be victims of senior scams, consider the signs it may be time for memory care.


Keep a List of Helpful Resources

It’s important to know who to call if you are worried that con artists are scam targeting your family members. Here’s a list of trusted agency contacts that can assist you to ensure your loved ones don’t lose thousands of dollars as victims of a scam:

·   Local police

·   Local bank (that holds their bank account)

·   Adult Protective Services in your area

·   AARP Elderwatch

·   Official IRS website

·   Internet Crime Complaint Center

·   Federal Trade Commission


If you or someone you know has been the victim of scam targeting — even if they weren’t successful — be sure to report it by calling the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline, or by visiting the Scam-Tracking Map (and letting your neighbors know about potential scams in their area). The AARP offers these resources to help identify senior scams and ultimately prosecute the criminals behind them.


Explore a Worry-Free Environment at Garden Plaza of Florissant

How do you pay for senior living if you’ve been a victim of senior scams?  At Garden Plaza of Florissant, we can help. No one should live in fear as an older adult that their savings will be stolen from them. For more information about the financial benefits of moving to Garden Plaza of Florissant, contact us today. 

If you feel like you or your loved one has been the victim of a crime, please contact your local authorities.