Millions of people fall victim to financial scams every year. A large portion of this population unfortunately happens to be the elderly. Senior citizens are commonly victims of financial scams for many reasons. Some of these reasons include the fact they might not be in the best mental shape, are easily confused, and do not know how to use technology very well. In this article we will detail the most popular elderly financial scams you need to be aware of. Scammers and fraudsters can use these scams on people of all ages, however they are most commonly used on the elderly.
Lottery or Sweepstakes Scam
One of the most common elderly financial scams is the lottery or sweepstakes scam. This is the type of scam when a fraudster will call or email you notifying you that you have won some prize. The prize can be cash, a product, or even a trip that is paid in full. Many times the victim will be surprised by this, and not even know that they signed up for such a promotion. This should be your first red flag.
The way that the scammer wins, is by getting personal information. For instance, the scammer may ask for personal financial information so they can deposit your winnings. This may include a bank account number and bank routing number. The scammer may also ask for your social security number. Lastly, the scammer may just be after money. In many cases, the fraudster will say that in order to claim your prize, you need to pay some taxes and fees. Once you pay the fees, you get the prize. However, once you send money, you will never hear from them again.
The amount of money they ask for might be small compared to the prize you win. Because of this, you may be tempted to give out personal information like your bank account number.
If anyone calls you claiming that you won a prize, the majority of the time it may be a scam. Before proceeding, ask what lottery or raffle you entered. Remember to never give personal information out over the phone. Also, avoid giving out any kind of banking information to people calling you.
Tech Support Fraud
Let’s face it – most seniors are not tech savvy. Because of this, they are a common target of a tech support scam. In this type of scam, someone will call posing as a legitimate company saying that your computer was hacked. They may also say that you need updated software on your computer, like fraud protection or some type of internet security. It is popular for them to claim that they have detected some sort of virus or threat on the targets computer, and need money to fix it right away.
If they are after money, they may just ask you to make a payment over the phone. They can ask for your banking information, or even your credit card information. This is one thing you have to worry about with a tech support fraud, but there are others as well. In addition to money, they may be after your personal information. They can get this several ways, the first being that they just ask you for it so they can request payment for their services.
Another way scammers can get information from a tech support scam is remotely accessing your computer. They may send you a link, or direct you to a website. Once you are there, they can get remote access to your technology systems. If they get access, they can find your saved passwords, banking information, credit card number, and much more. After they have this information, they can open new credit cards in your name, or even take out loans. This can ruin your credit score, and you will need to jump through hoops to improve you credit score again.
The best way to avoid this is to teach or learn more about the technology you use. It is a great idea to tell them about phishing attacks and computer best practices. If someone ever calls you or emails you about an issue with your computer, be very skeptical about its legitimacy. In the case you do get an email or phone call like this, just hang up. If you are worried about the state of your technology, have someone you trust look at it. You can take it into a big box technology store like BestBuy or Staples, or have a freelance IT expert take a look at it for you.
The next two types of scams are very sad and can make people very angry when they learn about them. The grandchild impersonation scam is one of the very common elderly financial scams. The way this scam works is when people post as a grandchild or relative of the target. They usually will call them and say there was an accident or they are in jail. The scammer will then ask for money to help them out. In all cases with this type of scam, the fraudster will say it is urgent and that they need help now.
The scammer may say that they are calling the target because they don’t want their parents to know.
This type of scam is so popular because it is easy to find out information that can help fraudsters pull off a grandchild impersonation scam. For instance, if you use social media, you can easily get names, and other information, about people and their families. Facebook can pose a big threat, because you can search people’s friends and see who has the same last name. You can also see their pictures, and even how other people are related to them. This is why it is a good idea to not put a ton of personal information on social media.
If someone calls you claiming to be a relative or grandchild, always confirm their identify. Ask personal questions only the actual person will know.
A sweetheart scam is another one of the elderly financial scams you need to worry about. It is also the most sickening to think about. With a sweetheart scam, a fraudster poses as a romantic interest on social media or over the phone. Someone may also just try to find elderly people to prey on and pretend they love them.
This can take a huge emotional toll on the victim. This is especially true if they are lonely and looking for companionship. Sweetheart scams account for the biggest financial losses in seniors. Elderly people, especially widows, widowers, recent divorcees, and retired seniors become a victim of sweetheart scams when they go on social media or online dating sites to find a companion.
With a sweetheart scam, the scammer will work on creating a personal relationship with the victim. Once the fraudster gains the trust of the victim, they will then start asking for money or financial assistance. The worst part is, that this type of scam can go on for weeks, months, and even years. The victim can end up sending thousands of dollars to the scammer. They may even send personalized gifts because they think they are in love with each other.
Before trying to find a companion online, make sure to verify the identity of any other party. A great way of doing this is to meet in person or have a video call. Also, be sure to never provide any sort of financial assistance to anyone. If you have an elderly parent, you need to be very careful of this. You should be curious and make sure your parent or loved one is not a victim of such a horrible type of scam.
Common Elderly Scams – Summary
It is a sad truth that we all have to be careful of being taken advantage of by scammers. There are many people out there that will do anything to scam or defraud people, either by trying to get money, or worse, personal information. Scammers can not only try to take advantage of your personal finances with a financial scam, but there are even common real estate scams you need to know about so you can avoid them.
Due to several factors, the elderly are common targets and victims of scams. Some of the most popular types of elderly financial scams include the lottery or sweepstakes scam, the tech support scam, the grandchild impersonation scam, and the worst, the sweetheart scam.
The best way to avoid any type of scam is to always question peoples’ motives. If something seems too good to be true, in most cases it is. Remember to never give money to someone who calls or emails you, even if you think you know them. Also, never give out your personal information over an email or phone call.