Community Blog

Be Aware: Common Senior Scams and How To Avoid Being A Victim

By Michelle Brown

Senior citizens have become the number one target for in person and phone scams. Seniors often live alone and can be easily threatened into providing information for their benefit. Scammers assume that retirement funds are accessible, and most elderly people will be too embarrassed to pursue their abusers.

Typical Scams

Scammers are inventive and they think of new ways to cheat seniors. Here are some current scams that have become popular amongst scammers:

  • The Medicare Scam – Everyone older than 65 qualifies for Medicare. Posing as a Medicare agent, scammers will call and ask for personal information or payments.

  • IRS Scams – A person claiming to be an IRS agent calls and insists that back taxes are owed. Using fear, these scammers try to convince the victim to pay the debt immediately.

  • The Grandparent Con – Posing as a grandchild, the scammer will call and ask for money to help with a problem.

  • Funeral Scams – A scammer will call after a funeral and inform a grieving spouse that their recently deceased loved one left unpaid debts.

  • Electric Company Scam – Two people will approach a senior’s home. While the senior is distracted by one person, the other will find a way in and raid the home of jewelry and money.

Common Traits of a Scam

Scammers find new ways to manipulate seniors and use charm and sympathy to lure you into believing they are a legitimate collector.

  • Interest in Personal Information – A scammer will repeatedly ask for account numbers and social security numbers to approve of fraudulent transactions.

  • Urgency – The scammer needs you to commit to making a transaction right away. If you feel like you are being rushed, you should reconsider what you are doing.

  • Someone You Trust – Scammers have no integrity of their own. They borrow it by pretending to be someone you already trust.

  • Unable to Verify Identity – Scammers avoid directly identifying themselves.

A conversation with a scammer should feel uncomfortable. Some scammers will turn to intimidate and fear when their charm and flattery fail. If the tone of a conversation suddenly changes, it may be a sign that this person is up to no good.

Protection Against a Scam

Seniors can take measures to protect themselves against fraud.

  • Always verify the identity of someone you are talking to by calling them back

  • Verify the caller

  • Talk it over with a caregiver or a family member before sending money

  • Keep all personal and financial documents in a secure area

  • If you feel like you are being pressured, end the conversation

 

If you feel like you or a loved one have been scammed, contact Home Helpers of Drexel Hill for assistance with getting in contact with your local District Attorney’s office. Your local District Attorney can assist with protecting your identity and also retrieve money paid that was paid to scammers.