Each year, millions of Americans fall victim to scams. And since seniors are generally more trusting, have more savings, own a home, and have good credit, they’re the prime target for scammers. In 2019 alone, the FTC reported that U.S. seniors suffered a monetary loss of over $400 million due to scams. Telephone scams continue to be con artists’ favorite way of targeting seniors, but they also create fake websites, send shady emails, and advertise their schemes on the radio, TV, and the internet. In other words, scammers are everywhere, and you should be extra careful before sending money or providing your personal information to anyone. It’s also helpful to always be in the loop about the latest senior scams. If you know how they work, you’ll see them coming from a mile away and know how to protect yourself.
Getting the right healthcare plan is a big headache. Scammers take advantage of this complex process to sell ‘simple solutions’ with extremely low rates. They may either cold call you or appear at the top of Google searches via paid advertising. Additionally, healthcare scammers are known for featuring logos and names of well-known insurers or even the AARP on their websites. Of course, the service they offer isn’t what is advertised or might not even exist. The best way to protect yourself from these scams is to read reviews online before committing to a purchase, even when the scammer is pressuring you to buy the service right away for an excellent discount. This is similar to medical alert system scams, which you should also be aware of.
Fake Family Member
Impostors know that seniors will do anything for their grandchildren. That’s why they send text messages trying to pass as a family member. Conversations usually start like this: ‘Hi Grandma/Grandpa, do you know who this is?’. When the senior provides a name, the scammer pretends to be the grandchild and asks for money. Usually, people will sign their names when contacting someone from a new number, so assume any message like this as a scam. But, for extra peace of mind, you can also use a background check service to look the number up and see if it’s actually your grandkid who’s messaging you.
It’s natural for you to call the IRS to ask about your stimulus check’s whereabouts. But one thing that is never going to happen is someone from the IRS contacting you about it. So, if you get a call from someone asking you to pay a fee to get your check, you can be certain that they’re a scammer. The criminal may also ask for personal information, such as your Social Security or bank account numbers, in order to steal your identity. The best way to avoid falling victim to these scams is by filing your taxes with adequate tax software, as the company will make sure everything is filed correctly. Plus, some online tax providers, like TurboTax, offer basic identity theft protection services to help you out in case you get scammed.
Fake Lotteries and Prizes
If you’re told that you’ve won a lottery or sweepstakes and that you need to pay a fee to get the prize, run away. This is a common scam where the criminals send seniors a fake check while pocketing the fake prize fee.
Romance scams might not be as common, but they’re the ones that cost seniors the most. Typically, scammers contact the elderly through social media or a dating website. They take advantage of seniors’ loneliness to get close to them, and when the target is wrapped up in a fake love story, they’ll ask for money. It goes without saying that you should never send money to someone you haven’t met in person, but the best way to prevent someone from playing with your heart is by using a trustworthy dating website. There are plenty of senior dating apps out there, which allow for a much safer online dating experience
It takes around 30 minutes for a scammer to create a fake ecommerce website that looks real. So, be extremely careful when shopping online. You may either get a fake item or not get anything at all. The best way to protect yourself is by sticking with well-known websites like Amazon, which will solve these kinds of problems for you. Paying with PayPal also works as a safety net, as it returns your money when you don’t get what you’ve been advertised. Finally, never buy from an online shop you just discovered without reading reviews from third-party websites first. But be aware of too many 5-star reviews, as scammers may pay people to leave great reviews.
As a rule of thumb, when a deal seems too good to be true, it’s likely a scam. If you realize someone is trying to scam you, always report it to the FTC, as this helps the organization to warn other possible targets.
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