Gift Card Scams Swindle Seniors Out of Millions

gift card scams

Many seniors are aware of the most common forms of fraud targeting older adults, like romance scams and grandparent scams. However, scam artists are always coming up with new ways to attempt to steal money from hardworking Americans. Gift card scams, in which scam artists use tech support to weasel their way into seniors’ lives, have conned some individuals out of all they have.

One Woman’s Gift Card Scams Story

AARP has reported extensively on different forms of fraud targeting seniors, including gift card scams. One woman interviewed, a former teacher, spent $45,000 on gift cards over the course of three days. She was targeted by two individuals: one posing as an American Express employee, the other pretending to be a Microsoft tech support agent.

These individuals claimed that they could see illicit purchases made by the woman online and that there was a warrant out for her arrest. For them to help her, she would need to purchase them gift cards to the tune of five figures.

It was only once the ordeal was over that the former teacher realized she had been the victim of a scam. Now, working with the police, the FBI, and her credit card company, she’s making an effort to get back what she’s lost.

Staying Safe

How can you avoid falling victim to this scam? First, know that no legitimate company or government agency will ask you to pay them in gift cards.

Additionally, pop-ups on your computer purporting to be from Microsoft can be a form of fraud. When in doubt, reach out to your credit card company or tech support agency directly rather than calling the number the pop-up provides.

The Seniors Center Blog is here to keep seniors informed about the forms of fraud targeting older Americans. We invite you to learn more about The Seniors Center today. Then, keep up with The Seniors Center on Twitter and Facebook so you never miss a post.

‘Criminals Love Driver’s Licenses’—5 Reasons to Keep Your ID Safe

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.

The Seniors Center

The Seniors Center is here to help you stay safe from scams, elder abuse, and fraud. Follow us today on Twitter and Facebook to learn more!

The Top Ten Scams Targeting Seniors Might Surprise You

There are nearly endless scams targeting older adults. From theft to identity fraud, seniors need to stay vigilant and be aware of the latest schemes. Georgia’s Consumer Protection Division has put together a helpful resource for seniors who want to stay informed.

Top 10 Scams

Here are the top 10 scams to watch out for:

  1. Medicare or health insurance fraud – Scam artists might pose as Medicare representatives
  2. Counterfeit prescription drugs – Be wary of suspicious offers for medications, especially if they come with a free “gift”
  3. Funeral and cemetery scams – These scams usually involve pre-purchased funeral and cemetery services that are not delivered
  4. Fraudulent anti-aging products – Don’t fall for false advertising that promises to take years off your appearance
  5. Telemarketing fraud – Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls; never give out your credit card or bank account information
  6. Internet fraud – Be careful when clicking on unfamiliar links, and never provide your personal information to an unverified source
  7. Investment fraud – Research any investment offers carefully to avoid being scammed
  8. Reverse mortgages – Make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions of a reverse mortgage before signing
  9. Sweepstakes and lottery scams – Never pay to collect a prize or money
  10. Grandparent scams – Be wary of requests for money from anyone claiming to be a family member in an emergency situation

If you’ve been a victim of a scam, don’t be embarrassed—it’s important to report the incident and seek help. Scam artists can be sophisticated and deceptive, so it can be difficult to stay ahead of them.

The Seniors Center Blog

The Seniors Center is here to help. We provide resources and information to help seniors identify and avoid scams, as well as advice on ways to protect themselves. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook so you never miss an update!

Watch Out for Phishing Scams—This One Almost Fooled Keith Hernandez

Phishing scams

Phishing scams are becoming more and more sophisticated—so much so that even a savvy guy like Keith Hernandez almost fell for one.

What Are Phishing Scams?

Phishing scams are a type of fraud where scammers send emails or texts that look like they’re from a legitimate company in an attempt to get you to share personal information like your Social Security number, credit card number, or bank account login information.

They might also try to get you to download software that will give them access to your computer or device.

Once they have this information, they can use it to commit identity theft or financial fraud.

Hernandez, a former MLB player and current broadcaster for the New York Mets, recently shared his story of how he almost fell victim to a phishing scam. He received an email that looked very official, purporting to be from Florida Power & Light, saying he needed to pay them a deposit or his power would be shut off.

The email looked legitimate at first glance, and he even called the number they gave him. But luckily, he called his bank before he gave them any of his personal information.

This incident is a reminder that we all need to be careful about the emails we open and click on. If you’re ever unsure about the legitimacy of an email, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not click on any links or attachments.

Stay Safe from Scams

If you think you may have been the victim of a phishing scam, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission. You can also learn more about how to protect yourself from these types of scams by keeping up with The Seniors Center‘s latest posts.

Ways to Stay Safe from ATM Scams

atm scams

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.

The Seniors Center

The Seniors Center Blog is here to help older Americans stay safe from all forms of scams, from romance scams to phishing. Discover The Seniors Center’s community by connecting with us on Twitter and Facebook today!

Stay Safe from Fraudulent Check Schemes

fraudulent checks

When looking at the different ways that scam artists target seniors, it’s easy to focus on the ones that lure victims in with emotional appeals. Grandparent and sweetheart scams are both examples of this. But there’s another type of scam that’s just as dangerous, if not more so — the fraudulent check scheme.

How One Las Vegas Man Swindled Seniors Out of Millions

One recent example of an especially insidious fraudulent check scheme took place in Las Vegas. A 76-year-old resident of the city, Michael Zeto, was discovered to be stealing money from other seniors’ bank accounts by depositing fraudulent checks.

He first purchased the names and bank account information of senior citizens from foreign telemarketers. He created checks in their names and deposited them into his own business accounts. Zeto has since been caught, however, and faces many years in prison for this form of fraud.

Stay Safe from Fraudulent Check Schemes

Fraudulent check schemes are just one of the many ways that scam artists target seniors. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

The most important thing is to be aware of the signs of fraud. If someone you don’t know asks you to deposit a check for them, be very suspicious. Never give out your bank account information to someone you don’t know.

You should also keep a close eye on your bank account. Check your statements regularly and report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately. If you do become the victim of fraud, be sure to contact the police so they can catch the person responsible.

The Seniors Center

By following these simple steps, you can help keep yourself safe from fraudulent check schemes and other types of scams. At The Seniors Center, we’re helping seniors stay safe — and providing helpful information about Social Security and other issues impacting older Americans. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to learn more!

Americans Lost Nearly $8.8 Billion to Scams in 2022

scams 2022

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!

FBI senior scams

VIDEO: The FBI Warns Seniors About Common Scams


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.

The Seniors Center is committed to keeping seniors safe online. Learn more about our mission today—and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more updates!

A Con Artist Posing as an Official Was Able to Steal One Woman’s Life Savings

con artist South Carolina

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.

Illegal Call Center Scams: What You Need to Know


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 Seniors Center Blog is here to offer advice on dealing with scams and resources on how to stay safe. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook if you’d like to stay up to date on the latest scam alerts and safety tips. Together, we can help protect our community from scams.