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5 Common Scams Seniors Should Detect And Avoid

Senior Living Tips | News

Scams are everywhere. Unfortunately, seniors tend to face a higher risk of being targeted because they can appear to be the most vulnerable.

Here’s an overview of some of the most common senior scams you’ll find, what to look for and what you can do to protect yourself or someone you love.

The Grandchild Scam

How it works: It starts with a scammer calling you and pretending to be your grandchild.

The scammer will say they are in some sort of financial trouble and need you to send money immediately. The scam happens when you send your “grandchild” money, only to later discover you were the victim of an unfortunate scheme.

How to avoid it:

  • Don’t send money unless you are certain the caller is who they say they are.
  • Before sending money, meet with your grandchild in person or call a family member to make sure their situation is real.
  • Don’t let the criminal get to your emotions. If you have a bad feeling or instinct that the caller is a fraud, hang up the phone.

Prize Or Sweepstakes Scam

How it works: A scammer will contact you claiming you have won something. For example, they may say you’ve won a trip, money, tickets to a game or show, etc.

To win the prize, you will be prompted to pay a fee or give out personal account information to pay for insurance costs, taxes, or other charges, which is where the scam comes in. In some cases, the scammer will send the prize (for instance, a fake check) in the mail and before you realize it’s fake, the scammer has already pocketed their “fee” money.

How to avoid it:

  • Don’t give out your financial information through email or over the phone.
  • If you never signed up for a contest, be cautious of random emails indicating you’ve won something.
  • If the prize seems too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instincts.

showing his elderly father how to use a tablet at home

Charity Scam

How it works: A scammer will pose as a charity worker. They’ll share a sad story following with a plea for money to support their “charity” or organization.

How to avoid it:

  • Verify the charity. A quick internet search can help you determine if it’s legitimate.
  • While it’s natural to want to help a good cause, don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment.
  • Be wary of suspicious requests for money. Again, if something feels “off,” it probably is.

Investment Scams

How it works: Scammers know that you have likely been planning for retirement and have money saved. These people will pose as financial advisors to gain access to your savings and funds —and ultimately take your money.

How to avoid it:

  • Research and ask a lot of questions before you make any large investment over the phone or online.
  • If a scammer claims that there will be “no risk” or that you will have “incredible gains,” be skeptical. If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
  • Verify credentials. Anyone selling investments or offering investment help should have some sort of licensing or registration associated with their business.

Medicare Scam

How it works: Con artists will try to prey on you if you qualify for Medicare. They will pose as a Medicare representative to try to lure you into providing medical information over the phone.

How to avoid it:

  • Do not give out your information until you verify it’s actually Medicare.
  • Medicare employees should have your information already on file, so if someone posing as a Medicare representative is asking for personal information, it’s probably a ploy.
  • Protect your Medicare number and don’t allow anyone to use it.

It’s important to educate yourself on common scams that could target you or a loved one. It’s even more important to know the warning signs and how to avoid becoming a victim. Remember: If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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