Too often, the tactics used to put an end to scams targeting seniors only work once fraud or abuse has taken place. It’s more difficult to prevent fraud in the first place. However, a new law, The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act, could help.
What is The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act?
Just last week, President Biden signed the bill into law, according to reporting from CBS affiliate WGME. The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act enjoys bipartisan support and exists to protect senior citizens from becoming victims of scams in the first place. The act provides for a new office within the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that will work to root out scams and provide education for vulnerable seniors.
A few of the provisions of the act include:
Enhanced fraud monitoring
Increased consumer education on scams and forms of fraud
A stronger complaint tracking system at the Federal Trade Commission
These efforts can help protect seniors from fraud, but avoiding falling for a scam involves vigilance as well. If you suspect that you are being targeted in a scam, report it to the FTC right away.
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.
For seniors, keeping private information safe is of the utmost importance. However, staying safe online can be challenging. Luckily, seniors can take advantage of a number of resources from the Social Security Administration to protect their information.
According to the official Social Security blog, several resources are available specifically so that seniors can protect themselves online. These include:
A my Social Security account – Open an online account to check for suspicious activity
The “Guard Your Card” infographic – Learn when you might need to show your Social Security card and when to keep it private
The Social Security Administration’s Privacy page – Discover how the SSA works to keep your identity safe
You can learn more about these and other resources on the Social Security Administration’s website. Share what you learn with your loved ones as well, as this information can help everyone whether they’re a Social Security recipient or now.
We’re working hard to ensure that seniors can stay safe from scams, fraud, and identity theft. Stay updated with The Seniors Center Blog’s latest updates by following The Seniors Center on Twitter and Facebook!
Being on the receiving end of a scam call or email is frustrating at any time. However, if you’re stressed, it’s possible that you could be more susceptible to frauds. Stress and scams, according to a report by AARP, are closely linked.
Staying aware of current scams can help you avoid giving out personal information. Learn more from The Seniors Center Blog today!
The Connection Between Stress and Scams
There are a number of risk factors that can make an individual more likely to fall victim to a scam. These can involve what time of day they’re targeted, their age, and even recent life events.
Those who have recently been through a traumatic and stressful event such as a divorce, illness, or job loss are more likely to give out information or even money to a scammer. Why? Because scam artists use these events to their advantage.
Scam artists learn everything they can about their marks and use this to keep victims distracted. Those who have been through stressful events might also not have a strong network of support to fall back on. This is a cocktail for disaster.
Stay Safe from Scams
Learning about these risk factors can help you stay safe from scams. In times of stress, don’t let your guard down. Investigate suspicious calls and reach out to loved ones for help if needed.
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.
You might know to stay clear of calls from unknown numbers, as these can be scams targeting you for money or information. The ubiquitous calls asking about your car’s extended warranty, for example, are easy to hang up on. But what about when you receive a call from an unknown number and the person on the other end of the line is from Medicare? Or the IRS? Would you be so quick to hang up? Scammers prey on this hesitation in order to steal from vulnerable seniors. Learn more about how to spot government imposter scams so that you can stay safe.
What Are Government Imposter Scams?
Government imposter scams typically involve phone calls. The person on the other end of the line will immediately jump into either threats, demands, or even offerings of money to get you to give up information or money. According to AARP, some of the most common government imposter scams include:
Posing as a Medicare employee
Pretending to be from the Social Security Administration
Acting as a student loan officer
Pretending to give out a grant
Posing as the FBI
How to Stay Safe
The government will not call with demands—instead, government agencies will typically communicate through the mail. If you’re concerned about a phone call or other communication, hang up and call the agency yourself or look into what the scammer is saying online. It’s likely that other individuals have reported similar calls.
The Seniors Center wants retirees to stay safe from scams. Keep up with our blog on scams, fraud, and abuse to help ensure that you’re not caught off guard. And follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more updates!
During COVID-19, senior scams have been on the rise. From vaccine scams through robocalls and texts to romance scams that target lonely older adults, it’s never been more crucial for seniors to stay safe. One of the most insidious senior scams? The “grandparent scam.”
What Is a Grandparent Scam?
In Western New York, hundreds of cases have been reported to the FBI of malicious phone calls to unsuspecting seniors. The intent of these calls? A scammer will pose as the child or grandchild of the senior. During the call, they’ll pretend that they’re in trouble—most likely, legal trouble that requires the senior to send money. Whatever it is, they’ll act like the issue is incredibly urgent. Their request to the senior on the line will be for them to send bail money. In this New York community alone, according to ABC Buffalo, scammers stole over $13 million.
How to Stay Safe
Scammers are likely to get their information about your children or grandchildren through social media. Keep your profiles private and avoid giving out personal information. If you receive a suspicious phone call, hang up. Don’t give them any information, and try to verify who they’re claiming to be by calling someone else. Report any attempted scams to the police.