The Never-Ending Scams on Seniors
Con artists have carried out their scams on seniors for decades, assuming they have money to steal and that they make good targets and excellent victims.
Sure, seniors aren’t strangers to technology (computers and smart phones have been around for a long time)…nonetheless, most seniors aren’t what you’d call technically savvy. For those who are on the upper end of that age group—
75+ perhaps…or even a few years younger—a few more factors come into play:
- They grew up in an area where people were generally nicer to each other. They were taught to trust people and be nice.
- For sure, there wasn’t such a thing as a cyber thief decades ago. It was harder to scam people before technology.
- They’re likely very comfortable using the phone (most have landlines, still) and may enjoy taking a phone call.
- They could simply be unaware (or less aware) of scams that are targeting their age group or their interests—investments, reducing taxes, etc.
- Memory loss and signs of mental decline start to show. Dementia or early-onset Alzheimer’s disease may come into play. (One guest on the Easy Prey podcast shared that her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 65.)
Helping seniors we know and care about.
Which is why we need to talk to the seniors we know and take steps to help them avoid being the victim of a scam. In other words, seniors make ideal targets and potential victims for scammers.
Then, add this to the mix.
Scammers are heartless. They don’t care if they are stealing thousands of dollars from a millionaire or a few hundred dollars from someone living primarily on Social Security income.
It’s important for children or grandchildren of aging parents to beware of the potential attacks they face daily.
By email, by text, by phone: Scams on seniors come in a variety of ways.
Con artists adapt to the times, technology and trends, so they’ll use a variety of approaches to target seniors. The fact that seniors have some familiarity with technology and are comfortable with texts, emails and phone calls makes a con artist’s job simpler.
Yes, these types of scams happen to just about everyone, but seniors who are either losing a step or somewhat gullible may fall victim easier—which is just what a scammer wants.
Text scams. This has become a growing problem that exploded in 2021. With the authorities cracking down on robo-calls, con artists move to text message scams. It affects all of us, and seniors are very susceptible.
Email/phishing scams. Seniors may take some issues—as paying taxes, investing or identity theft—more seriously than other generations. Therefore, a scary email from “the IRS” may truly unnerve (and trick) them.
Telemarketing scams. Con artists will still make phone calls with a wide array of ploys hoping to trick one out of hundred people they talk to, but it’s worth their time. Here are a few tricks that still work.
- The accident trick. The scammer fools the target with the story that a loved one is in a hospital, and that money is needed right away to help.
- Charity scams. This trick is often used right after a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or an earthquake. The caller will often pose as a well-known charity.
- Technical support. While a senior is online, a pop-op window (controlled by the scammer) may claim they’ve found a virus and action must be taken immediately. Scared and worried, the target pays for a solution that doesn’t exist…or worse, downloads an actual virus.
Here are some top scams on seniors.
Health Care/Medicare/Health Insurance Fraud. With the majority of seniors on Medicare, health scams and fraud are a major problem. The scammer will trick the target into paying for services online or giving up personal information that is useful for identity theft.
Funeral & Cemetery Scams. Scammers will read obituary columns shopping for potential targets. They may claim the deceased has unpaid debts and demand money. Also, some funeral homes may take advantage of the grieving family to pad the bill with unnecessary services.
Fake anti-aging remedies. There is money in the anti-aging business and those with money may be willing to try remedies or treatments to maintain a youthful look. Botox scams are a genuine and dangerous scam.
Investment Schemes. Even the smartest people, including savvy senior investors, fall for investment schemes. Bernie Madoff’s victims were older, well-to-do successful people who lost millions of dollars. The desire to make more money is a lure con artists count on.
Homeowner and reverse mortgage scams. The majority of seniors own their homes outright and are sitting of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars of equity, making them juicy targets for scammers looking to swindle owners of money—or out of their homeownership, too.
Sweepstakes and lottery scams. This is one of the top online scams out there, year after year. For seniors who need to boost their nest egg, it’s a very effective scam. The victim believes they’ve won a sweepstakes, and to get the winnings, they first must pay a fee (refundable) to secure the winnings.
The grandparent scam. Grandparents may have grandkids scattered all over the country, and perhaps they don’t see them often. So, when one grandchild calls with an urgent request for money—they’ve been arrested overseas, or they were robbed and need money for airfare and lodging—a caring grandparent will jump into action with their heart.
Scammers and con artists have targeted seniors for decades, learn how to NOT be a victim.
Follow the Easy Prey podcast.
Chris Parker, CEO of WhatIsMyIPAddress.com, also hosts the Easy Prey podcast. The Easy Prey podcast is designed to help you stay informed, avoid scams and fraud, and keep you safer online and in real life.
Follow the podcast on your favorite platform or click on the link below to check out all the episodes.
- Easy Prey Podcast
- General Topics
- Home Computing
- IP Addresses
- Online Privacy
- Online Safety
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