Community Blog

Common Scams that Target Seniors

By Ketan Shah

Sadly, there are a lot of dishonest people out there who are out to get money any way they can, even if it means tricking senior citizens out of their hard-earned savings. Seniors are favorite targets of scammers because they are more likely to have some money saved up. The FBI suggests that they are seen as easier targets because they grew up in a time when people were more trusting and polite. They also say that older adults often don’t report when they are victims of fraud because they are afraid that it makes them look incompetent or they are embarrassed. Family caregivers can help the older adults in their lives to avoid being the victims of scam artists by knowing about common scams and teaching seniors about them. Below are some of the most common scams that target seniors.

Medicare Scams
Medicare scams are common because everyone becomes eligible for Medicare at the age of 65. Scammers contact seniors pretending to be representatives from Medicare and ask them for personally identifying information. Another Medicare scam involves setting up false mobile clinics to provide fake services to seniors and gain their personal information that way. They then use the information to bill Medicare and keep the money. Family caregivers can help avoid this scam by reminding seniors never to give personally identifying information over the phone if they are not certain who is on the other end. They can also schedule medical appointments for seniors with reputable doctors and clinics.

Money in the Mail
There’s a scheme out there in which seniors receive a personalized letter in the mail that indicates they’ve won a large sum of money. The catch is that they need to pay a “processing fee” to collect the money. Of course, there is no prize money—and no way to get back the money they sent. Remind your parents that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

IRS Scams
There are a couple of different scams that involve false claims that a person owes money to the IRS. One of them is a letter received in the mail that claims the person owes money because of the Affordable Care Act. Another is an automated or live phone call that says the person owes back taxes. The caller requests payment via gift card, wire transfer, or with a pre-paid debit card. They may even threaten jail time if the money is not paid. Family caregivers should be certain their older family members are aware that the IRS will never contact them via phone regarding back taxes, ask for payment using wire transfers or gift cards, and that they cannot threaten jail time for unpaid taxes.

Telemarketing Fraud
Seniors are often the target of telemarketers who attempt to sell them fake products or collect money for charities that don’t exist. Family caregivers can help by talking to older adults about not purchasing anything over the phone or giving to charities via phone. Ask seniors to run purchases and charitable giving by you before they make a commitment.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring caregivers in Santa Clara, CA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers today (408) 259-5930.