Your driver’s license can feel like a passport to everyday life. You probably make sure you never leave the house without it, and losing your ID can be a headache. But did you know that criminals could use your driver’s license for a multitude of scams?
The Most Common Driver’s License Scams
Losing your ID is just one way that scam artists can use your driver’s license. They can also use a photo or scan of your license to use your information. According to AARP, a few of the ways that fraudsters could use your ID include:
Giving it to police in the event that they’re arrested
Applying for credit cards or loans in your name
Creating fake IDs with your information that will scan just like the real thing
Renting apartments and signing up for utilities under your name without paying
Buying a car in your name
If you lose your ID, the best thing to do is to immediately report it. Contact your state’s motor vehicle agency to report a stolen ID, and contact the FTC if you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft. The sooner you act, the less time scam artists have to use your information.
It happens all too often—an unknown number pops up in your text messages, asking for personal information or offering a free gift that is too good to be true. The sender might even seem like an innocuous wrong number asking about the weather. Unfortunately, these are signs of a scam.
How Scam Texts Work
According to CBS News, one of the most insidious ways that scammers use text messages is through copycat bank fraud. Typically, this will start with a seemingly innocent text asking about a potentially fraudulent charge. The text will ask the recipient to answer “yes” or “no” to confirm or deny the charge. By responding, the recipient has unknowingly confirmed that their number is activated and that they are a real person—the perfect target for the scammer.
Other forms of scam texts include phony delivery scams, bogus gift scams, and fake offers for free or discounted services. In each case, an unsuspecting victim can easily end up giving away personal information, such as passwords, bank account numbers, or Social Security numbers.
Stay Safe with These Tips
Our top three tips for staying safe from scam texts include:
Never answer a text from an unknown number — If you don’t recognize the sender or aren’t expecting a text from someone whose number you don’t have saved, do not respond to the message in any way. Just delete the text and go about your day.
Verify all bank charges before responding — If you receive a text asking about a bank charge, do not respond with yes or no. Instead, contact your bank directly to confirm if the charge is legitimate.
Never give out personal information over text — When scammers ask for any kind of financial or personal information, such as passwords or Social Security numbers, do not provide it. Legitimate businesses and institutions will never ask for this kind of information over text message.
Going to the ATM is typically a routine errand. You might not think twice about getting your card out of your wallet, entering your PIN, and grabbing some cash. But an ATM scam is targeting people in metro areas that could cost you more than just a few dollars.
According to NBC New York, this scam starts at the moment you enter your PIN. Targets receive a tap on the shoulder from what seems to be a friendly stranger alerting them to cash on the ground behind them that might have fallen from their wallet while entering their PIN. By the time they turn around to pick up the money, their card has already been removed from the ATM by a thief and swapped with a dummy card. The thieves then use the information on the card to withdraw money from the victim’s account or make purchases before they can realize what has happened.
Staying Safe from ATM Scams
There are a few easy steps you can take to protect yourself from this scam:
Always be aware of your surroundings when using an ATM. If someone taps you on the shoulder, do not move away from the machine. Instead, stay at the ATM and alert your bank or the police immediately.
Cover the keypad with your free hand or body when entering your PIN to block anyone from seeing it.
Avoid ATMs that are in isolated areas or only have limited surveillance.
If you find yourself the victim of an ATM scam, report it to your bank immediately. Your bank will be able to investigate the case and, if possible, help you recover your money or block any fraudulent charges.
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!
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.
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.
Scam calls come in many forms. Scammers might pretend to be a loved one or acquaintance, might use the ruse of an emergency, or might act as a government employee to gain the trust of their marks. One scam that is on the rise in recent months is actually a spin on an older con: acting as a Social Security employee.
How to Spot This Social Security Scam
How does this scam work? The con artists tell their potential victims that someone is trying to open bank accounts in their name. In order to stop this from happening, they’ll say, the victim needs to download an app on their phones. This app will allow the supposed Social Security or IRS employee to remotely access their phone.
By remotely accessing the phone, the scammer can access passwords and accounts. They might ask their victim to transfer money into a different account. According to NBC 2 News, one Florida woman had the scammer ask her to transfer money into Bitcoin—luckily, a fraud alert came up before she was able to complete the transaction.
A new scam is targeting seniors—specifically, seniors with investments. Using fear tactics relating to economic insecurity, scam artists are working to convince retirees to trade their hard-earned investments for coins made out of precious metals that don’t hold the same value. Learn how to stay safe today.
How This Precious Metals Scam Works
How does this precious metals scam work?
First, salespeople will prey on fears about society at large—the pandemic, economic issues, or other forms of instability. They’ll attempt to convince their targets that having money in traditional investments is no longer safe.
Their alternative to investments? Buying coins made out of precious metals such as gold or silver.
However, fees and high markups can inflate the cost of these coins. Those who buy them are left with items of far less value than their investments were worth.
AARP reports that, Joe Rotunda, a member of the Texas State Securities Board, has noted that “These scams prey on the concerns that senior citizens may have relating to the economy, their retirement and their financial well-being.”
Be wary of anyone using pressuring tactics to encourage you to buy coins made out of precious metals. Talk to a trusted financial advisor before making any decisions involving large amounts of money. And report fraud to the FTC when possible.