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.
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.
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.
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.
For seniors, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, social media has been a lifeline. Many older Americans enjoy connecting with friends and family on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites. However, there can be hidden dangers lurking on social media. For some seniors, these dangers come in the form of vicious romance scams.
What Are Romance Scams?
Romance scams, also known as dating scams, totaled more than $300 million last year, according to USA Today. Much of these losses were for retirees who have been targeted on social media. The way these scams operate is that a scammer sends their target a friend request and attempts to strike up a friendship or romantic relationship. Then, they’ll move the conversation off of social media and begin texting or calling. Eventually, they will ask for money, possibly for an emergency. They’re likely to ask for a wire transfer or gift cards.
It can be difficult to sort out scammers from individuals who are truly looking for friendship. Senior citizens can stay safe by keeping conversations on social media and not giving out personal information. Research friend requests before accepting them by looking at their profiles. And if you feel suspicious, talk through your concerns with friends and family.
The FBI has recently released statistics detailing the cyber crimes that have taken place so far in 2021. These crimes range from phishing scams to ransomware attacks, and they have affected individuals, businesses, and government entities alike. The good news is that there are steps that everyone can take to protect themselves from these types of attacks.
Here are some of the most common cyber crimes that have been reported so far this year:
Ransomware – This type of attack involves criminals using malicious software to lock up your computer files and demand a ransom in order to get them back. Ransomware attacks can be devastating for businesses, as they can result in the loss of important data and files.
Supply chain attacks – These attacks target the supply chains of businesses in order to gain access to their networks. Once inside, the attackers can then install ransomware or steal sensitive data.
Critical infrastructure attacks – These attacks target the systems that control our critical infrastructure, such as power grids and water treatment plants. These attacks can have a significant impact on public safety.
For individuals, the best defense against these types of attacks is to educate yourself about the risks and be aware of the signs of an attack. If you receive a suspicious email, don’t click on any links or attachments. Change passwords regularly and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. And, if you are a victim of an attack, don’t pay the ransom.
Staying aware of the latest scams is important for everyone, but it’s especially crucial for seniors. Scam artists often target older adults because they may be more trusting or less likely to report a crime.
However, the American Bankers Association has put together a series of short videos that can help seniors learn about the most common types of scams. Called the “Safe Banking for Seniors Scams Awareness Series,” these seven videos detail some of the most common types of fraud, including family imposter schemes, sweetheart scams, and lottery scams.
You can view the first one below:
Each video is under two minutes long and features tips on how to avoid being scammed, as well as what to do if you think you’ve already been victimized. This knowledge can be invaluable in helping seniors protect themselves and their finances.
You can watch the entire series on the American Bankers Association’s website or on YouTube.
There are many different types of scams targeting seniors, from fraudulent investment schemes to fake lottery scams. And with seniors being one of the most vulnerable demographic groups when it comes to fraud, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has put together a new advisory group to help fight back against these scams.
How the FTC Advisory Group Will Fight Back
According to the FTC, this group is part of the Stop Senior Scams Act. It will bring together “federal agency partners, consumer advocates, and industry representatives” to identify and find ways to stop scams that target seniors.
A few of the ways that the group plans to do this are by:
Improving education efforts
Finding innovative ways to prevent scams
Improving industry training
Developing research to better understand how seniors are targeted by scammers
This initiative comes on the heels of a new program in Pennsylvania bringing together government agencies and community resources to help seniors who have been victimized by scams. This new wave of anti-scam efforts is a welcome relief for seniors.