At The Seniors Center Blog, we’re constantly looking out for scams that could target seniors. From phishing scams to romance scams, there are plenty of ways that scammers can try to get your information or your savings. And in 2022, it’s clear that some of them were successful.
AARP reports that in 2022, Americans lost nearly $8.8 billion to scammers. This is an increase of 30 percent from 2021. Many of these scams targeted seniors, who are more likely to be vulnerable to these tactics and have a greater likelihood of being targeted.
Investment scams were to blame for the largest losses in 2022. The median loss to this type of scam was reported to be $7,144, an amount that could be devastating to many seniors.
Imposter scams also rose in 2022. Scam artists might pose as tech support, government employees, or even family members in order to gain access to personal information or funds.
It’s important for seniors to be on the lookout for these scams and to know how to protect themselves. The Seniors Center Blog offers a variety of resources about recognizing, avoiding, and reporting scams. Keep up with all of our latest posts by following The Seniors Center on Twitter and Facebook today!
Many scam artists target elderly Americans. They can be attractive targets because many seniors have retirement savings or own their own homes, resources that are valuable to scammers. The FBI works to take down scam artists, but relies on tips and insight from everyday American seniors to find out what common scams are causing problems.
This video from the FBI details how a former director of the agency was targeted by a scam and how he and his wife were able to take down the scam artist. Their article also gives seniors insight into how they can spot and report fraud.
Common Scams Targeting Seniors
According to the FBI, of the most common senior scams include:
Lottery scams – Be wary of anyone contacting you claiming that you have won money
Caregiver or guardianship scams – These insidious forms of fraud take advantage of seniors when they are most vulnerable
Tech support scams – Giving out passwords or access to devices can allow scam artists to steal personal information or money
If you suspect that you’re being targeted by a scam artist, you can use the FBI Tip Form to report your findings. Giving as much detail as possible can help the agency track down bad actors.
Cryptocurrency has taken the world by storm. This digital currency is not only popular, but it is also highly volatile and subject to fraud. Seniors are particularly vulnerable when it comes to crypto scams, as they may not be as tech-savvy or financially literate as younger generations. It is important for seniors to understand the risks associated with investing in cryptocurrency, as well as the signs that they may have fallen victim to a crypto scam.
What Is Cryptocurrency?
According to the FTC, cryptocurrencies are digital assets that can be used to store and transfer value. They are not backed by any government or central banks, which makes them attractive to investors looking for an alternative investment option. However, this lack of government oversight also makes them vulnerable to fraud and other risks.
How Crypto Scams Work
Crypto scams come in many forms, and they often target seniors. Signs of scams can include:
Someone is demanding payment in crypto for goods or services.
Someone is promising a guaranteed return on your crypto investment.
You are asked to provide personal information that could be used to steal your identity
Someone is pressuring you to invest quickly in a “limited time” offer.
If you encounter any of these signs, it is important to be aware that you may have encountered a crypto scam.
Law enforcement in South Carolina is raising the alarm after a con artist targeted a local senior woman at the end of 2022.
How One Woman Lost Her Savings
According to local ABC affiliate WSOC, Betty Burleson, a resident of Fort Mill, S.C., was contacted by a con artist who claimed to be a representative of Amazon. The fake agent claimed that fraudulent charges had been made on her account and that they were able to trace these charges to a case of identity theft. Betty was informed that her Social Security number was in use at five different banks, and in order to keep her savings safe, she would have to take action.
She took all of the money out of her bank account in cash as the “agent” asked, then mailed it to an address in California. The next day, when she went to contact the number again to check the status of her account, she discovered that the con artist had scammed her out of more than $15,000!
Of course, everything he had told her was a lie. There were no fraudulent charges, her Social Security number was not in use at five banks, and the address where she had sent her money was fake.
Staying Safe from Fraud
Staying safe from con artists and other fraudsters is an important part of protecting your financial future. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Never give money upfront in order to receive a prize
Never give out personal information, such as Social Security numbers or bank account numbers
Be wary of calls and emails purporting to be from government agencies
Do your research before investing in any product or service
If you think you may be a victim of con artist fraud, contact your local authorities immediately. The Seniors Center is here to help our readers stay safe with resources on fraud prevention. To keep up with our latest posts, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Scam artists will take any opportunity to find new victims to target, often keeping a close eye on the news to see what new programs or benefits could provide a way to steal. From student loan forgiveness scams to fake IRS calls, fraudsters will exploit any chance to make a profit.
How the 2023 COLA Scam Works
One of the latest developments these scammers are watching closely is the 2023 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). According to an NBC affiliate station in Baton Rouge, the 8.7 percent increase has caused scammers to try to take advantage.
“They can manipulate the system. So, they can actually show Social Security or whatever agency they want you to think, they show up on your caller ID,” notes Carmen Million, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau.
If you receive a call, text, or email from someone claiming to be a representative of Social Security, Medicare, or another agency claiming to be offering you a COLA-related benefit, never give them any personal information. Instead, hang up and contact the agency directly at their official telephone number—or report the scammer to the FTC, who can then investigate.
The Seniors Center Blog
The Seniors Center Blog is here to help retirees stay safe from scams, and we’re constantly updating our site with news on ways that scammers might target people like you. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook today for more updates on scams and other news in the senior community.
Your Social Security number (SSN) is a vital part of protecting your personal and financial information. It’s used for everything from filing taxes to opening a bank account. Unfortunately, scammers are using it for their own gain by preying on unsuspecting seniors.
How the Social Security Scam Letter Works
How does this scam work? According to an NBC affiliate station, you’ll receive a letter that claims to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA). It’ll claim that your SSN is being suspended because of suspected identity theft. The letter will go on to claim that your SSN is part of a $14 million dollar fraud investigation and will require you to call a phone number in order to reactivate it.
Of course, this is all lies.
The real Social Security Administration may contact you by letter, but they won’t ask for your personal information or threaten to suspend your SSN—and they’ll know your name. If you look closely at this Social Security scam letter, you’ll notice:
It doesn’t address you by name
The date isn’t in American format
And, of course, your Social Security number cannot be suspended—it’s yours for life.
The Seniors Center
If you receive one of these letters, DON’T call the number or provide any personal information. Keep your information safe by knowing the signs of a scam and never giving away your SSN. The Seniors Center Blog is here to help you stay informed and alert. Discover more tips and resources on our website, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest information.
Billions of dollars have been lost to scams just over the past two years, and seniors are often a target for scam artists. One scam that is particularly common that you should be aware of is illegal call centers.
Illegal call centers are fraudulent telemarketing organizations that target seniors with promises of discounted products and services, such as medical alert systems or vacation packages.
Yahoo! reports that call centers and phishing groups in India often use illegal tactics to scam people out of their money, such as lying about the company’s location or name, guaranteeing products and services that don’t exist, and having representatives threaten or pressure callers into making purchases.
Seniors should be aware of warning signs that they may be dealing with an illegal call center. These signs include aggressive sales tactics, misrepresentation of products and services, and requests for payment over the phone or by a wire transfer.
Remember—if you ever feel uncomfortable or intimidated by a caller, it’s best to hang up.
It’s important to protect yourself and your family by staying informed about illegal call centers and common scams. If you or a loved one have been targeted by an illegal call center, report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can also research the company online and contact your state attorney general’s office for more information.
The holidays are a time for giving, but unfortunately that also means it’s prime time for fraudsters to target unsuspecting seniors. Social Security Matters recently posted an article on how to protect yourself from imposter fraud during the holidays. It’s important that seniors stay informed and vigilant to ensure their hard-earned savings don’t end up in the hands of a scammer.
How Scam Artists Can Pose as Government Officials
Social Securit Matters reports that some criminals may attempt to pose as government officials. They might call or email pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA), IRS, or other federal agency. These scammers will often try to convince seniors that they are entitled to a tax refund or other payment, but must first provide personal information in order to receive it.
What Seniors Can Do To Stay Safe
The best way for seniors to protect themselves from imposter fraud is to ignore suspicious emails and calls. The SSA, IRS, and other government agencies will never contact you to ask for personal information or for money to be sent in the form of gift cards. These government agencies will send a letter via the mail instead.
Older Americans are often the targets of fraud and abuse by family members, caregivers, strangers, and even business entities. In 2021 alone, the money lost to elder fraud reached $1.7 billion. Understanding the numbers behind the fraud can help seniors protect themselves and their assets.
Breaking Down Elder Fraud Statistics
According to The Motley Fool, losses have nearly doubled from 2019 to 2021. With 97,371 victims in 2021, this indicates that it is more important than ever for seniors to protect their finances.
The average amount lost by victims of senior scams in 2021 was $18,246, but many seniors lost more than $100,000. The most common type of scam that targeted seniors was confidence fraud, which involves tricking seniors into wiring money to a scammer who poses as someone they can trust. Other types of scams included prize offers, government imposter fraud, and investment fraud.
Financial abuse also poses a significant threat to seniors. Loved ones and caregivers may take advantage of seniors’ physical or emotional vulnerability to gain access to their accounts and assets. Financial abuse, while not subject to the same tracking that fraud and scams are, has likely been responsible for billions in losses.
Did you know that scams can spike during the holidays?
During the holiday season, when people are feeling generous and looking for ways to help others, scammers can take advantage of this kind of generosity. As many as three-quarters of Americans have been targeted by a scam that’s connected to the holidays at some point.
These scams can include online fraud, fake charities, and even identity theft. It’s important to stay vigilant and protect yourself from these kinds of predatory activities.
How to Spot Holiday Scams
Unknown numbers, gift cards that have been tampered with, and shady charities are some of the biggest red flags associated with holiday scams. However, knowing what to look out for can be difficult, especially with the prevalence of online scams.
AARP has put together a helpful online quiz that will test your knowledge of holiday scams. The quiz covers topics like phishing, check fraud, and other factors that can help you identify potential disasters before they have a chance to affect you.
For example, can you always trust ads for items you see on social media? Will retailers like Amazon ever ask for your login info over the phone? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you stay safe from scams during the holidays.
The Seniors Center Blog Can Help You Stay Safe for the Holidays
We hope you enjoy this holiday season—and stay vigilant against scams! At The Seniors Center, you’ll find helpful advice on how to stay safe. From avoiding impostor fraud to recognizing questionable charities, our blog has all the info you need to stay safe during the holidays.