A woman reacts to being scammed online.

Elderly Fraud: 5 Types of Senior Scams & How to Prevent Them


Unfortunately, there are individuals in the world taking advantage of others. One of the most common examples of this is senior financial fraud. Senior citizens are often victimized by those who deceive and con others for a living. Have you or maybe a grandparent fallen victim to a scam? Are you familiar with some of the most common senior scams? How do you protect yourself or a senior from falling victim to another’s deceitful ways? Knowledge is power! Give yourself the power by learning what an elderly scam is, what to look for, and how to handle these situations.

What is “Senior Scamming”?

According to www.dictionary.com, a scam is “a deceptive scheme or trick used to cheat someone out of something, especially money.” A “senior” scam is an informal word often used to refer to the kind of fraudulent schemes, targeted at elderly adults, seen in spam emails, but it can also be applied to bigger or more sophisticated swindles, like pyramid schemes, romance, charitable donations, health care, and so much more.

Noteworthy “Senior Scam” Statistics

Although elderly adults aren’t any more likely to be the victims of financial fraud, they are more susceptible to certain types of scams. According to a study performed by the Federal Trade Commission in 2019, seniors lost four-times more money, on average, to phone scams compared to younger adults. Those 80 years of age or older, lost more money to prizes, sweepstakes and lottery scams compared to those between the ages of 60-79. In total, seniors ages 60 and up lost more than $440 million in 2019.

What are the Most Common Types of Senior Scams?

It’s important for seniors and their families to be aware of common types of financial fraud, so they can adequately protect themselves. Here are the five most common senior scams you should look out for.

1. Healthcare Scam

Everyone has health care needs, but sadly seniors may have more needs than others. Healthcare scammers will often contact you, claiming to be a representative of a healthcare company that can help you get better rates. They may even claim they can offer you discounts on medication, medical equipment, vaccinations and more. At this point, the scammer will ask for personal information including your social security number, address, banking information, or date of birth. They can then use this information to steal your identity, leaving you in a state of dismay.

2. Romance Scam

Many elderly people want to make a connection with someone who can make them feel special. It is wonderful when you can meet someone who encourages you and makes you feel loved. However, many seniors find love in the wrong places, with dishonest people they’ve found on the internet. Scammers look for someone who is looking to build a connection, and will often declare their love for the other person early on. After a bond has been formed, they’ll start asking you for money, so proceed with caution. The person on the other end of the phone may be a professional con artist, looking to take advantage of you.

3. Relative/Family Scam

When it comes to family, we will do anything to keep them safe or help if they are in trouble. Con-artists know that seniors value family above most things and will take advantage of this fact for their own personal gain. They will usually contact you posing as a relative in desperate need of help, insisting that they need a large sum of money to resolve their troubles. Be sure to pay attention to the details of the conversation and ask if you can call them back. After you hang up, call the relative they’re claiming to be. This is the quickest way to verify whether the call is actually coming from the relative the scammer claims to be. Save yourself the heartache and disappointment of falling victim to these fraudulent claims.

4. Online/Technical Support Scam

Technology is changing all the time. It’s no wonder it feels so tough to keep up. Many members of the senior community are not tech-savvy and impostors know this. Too often scammers contact seniors posing as a technical support analyst to gain access to their computer, tablet, or laptop. This so-called “online support person” will often claim there is an issue with your computer, and they need access to it to resolve the issue. Once they have access to your devices, and subsequently your personal information, they can steal your identity or even extort you for money.

5. Government Scam

An imposter may pose as a member of a well-known government agency when contacting a Senior. They may identify themselves as a member of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security Administration, or a health insurance agency representative from Medicare or Medicaid. Elderly adults may be asked to send large sums of money to avoid drastic penalties, such as jail, deportation, bankruptcy, and/or benefits being cut off. You may be asked to verify personal information that can be used to steal your identity. If you are contacted, ask questions and be sure to verify the information given to you. Reach out to others for advice on how to proceed forward.

How to Protect Yourself from a “Senior Scammer”?

Scammers, imposters, scam artists, and swindlers know no boundaries. They will use any lie they can think of to extort money or steal a senior’s identity. So how can you or maybe your grandparent avoid being scammed? Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Do not give out any personal information over the phone. Personal information can be your name, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, banking information, address, and social security number.
  • Reach out to someone that you trust to help navigate what is a scam and what is legit.
  • Do not act on an impulse! Take notes about the information that you are receiving from a suspected scammer then verify.

What Should You Do If You or an Elderly Parent is being Scammed?

The most important thing you can do if you or an elderly parent has fallen victim to a senior scam is report it. The next, most obvious question is where can you report a senior scam? Here are the most noteworthy places you can report fraud:

There’s no shame in falling victim to a senior scammer. They’re smart and know just the right ways to take advantage of people. Unfortunately, as we discussed above, this kind of thing isn’t uncommon. It’s essential to report these kinds of crimes so the proper authorities can do their job to bring scammers to justice.

At Culpepper Place of Olive Branch, we believe in protecting the residents of our Community. We provide compassion, companionship through daily activities, privacy, and dignity to our residents. Please contact Culpepper Place of Olive Branch today to find out more!

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