In the know

IN THE KNOW

Elder Scams

COMMON SCAMS TARGETING OLDER ADULTS & HOW TO AVOID THEM | PART 1

MAY 23, 2024 | FRAUD PREVENTION


Older adults are frequent targets of scammers who perceive them to be wealthier, less tech-savvy, and less likely to report fraud than other targets.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in 2023 Americans over 60 were victims of fraud with annual losses totaling more than $3.4 billion. This was an 11% increase in losses from 2022.

Scams are designed to catch people off guard and manipulate their emotions. One of the most impactful steps you can take to protect yourself from fraud is also one of the simplest: be aware of common scams. Knowing how common scams work can help you spot the warning signs before it’s too late.

1. SOCIAL SECURITY IMPOSTER SCAMS

In these schemes, fraudsters contact potential victims by phone, email, or text pretending to be from the Social Security Administration. They ask the individual to provide or confirm personal information such as their Social Security number, date of birth, or bank account number. These fraudsters often use threatening language to create a sense of urgency and may say that your Social Security number has been suspended or your benefits will be discontinued if you do not follow their instructions.

How to protect yourself:

- The Social Security Administration will never request personal information in an email or text. If you receive a message asking for this information, do not click any links and do not respond.

- It is uncommon for Social Security to contact individuals with an unexpected phone call. In the rare circumstances where they do, they will always provide their telephone number and extension.

-Government officials will never scare you into sending them money. Do not send cash, gift cards, or cryptocurrency to someone claiming to be from Social Security.

2. ROMANCE SCAMS

Romance scammers reach out to potential victims through dating apps or social media. They spend time (sometimes weeks or months) building romantic or platonic relationships with victims before requesting money or asking the victim to ship them packages. The fraudster may send a check to cover the cost of shipping, tricking the victim into participating in a money laundering scheme or shipping stolen merchandise.

How to protect yourself:

-Do not send money, gifts, or packages to someone you have not met in person.

-Talk to friends and family members you trust about new online relationships. They may be able to help you identify the warning signs of a romance scam.

3. TELEMARKETING SCAMS

Fraudsters use robocalls to dial thousands of phone numbers with pre-recorded messages that are activated when an individual answers the phone call. This technology is used for a variety of scams. Fraudsters may pretend to be from the IRS, claim a warranty is expiring soon, or warn you of an impending lawsuit or legal charge and then demand prompt payment to avoid negative consequences. Others may ask for donations after a natural disaster or offer free medical supplies if you share your address and credit card number. When one of these scams is successful, the fraudster shares the victim’s information with other scammers looking for easy targets.

How to protect yourself:

-Never give your credit card number, banking information, address, or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.

-Do not purchase from or donate to unfamiliar companies or organizations.

-If you receive an unexpected call from an unfamiliar number, be wary. This is often the first warning sign that the call is a scam.

4. INVESTMENT SCAMS

Investment scams offer “risk-free” investments with “guaranteed” returns. Fraudsters use various methods to trick victims into investing money including pyramid schemes, business partnership opportunities, and complex financial products. The use of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, is common in investment scams.

How to protect yourself:

-Before investing, make sure you fully understand the investment opportunity. Find out what portion of your money will go to commissions or fees and what portion will go to the investment.

-Take time to learn more about the organization you are investing with. Check with your local consumer protection agency, the Better Business Bureau, your state attorney general, or other watchdog groups. You can also look for their financial statements using the SEC’s EDGAR database.

5. TECH SUPPORT & INTERNET SCAMS

Tech support and internet scams allow fraudsters to gain access to the personal and financial information on your computer. Fraudsters may reach out via phone or email claiming to be tech support from a well-known company and request remote access to the victim’s computer to fix an issue. Once they have access, they may install malware, steal financial information and passwords, or lock the victim out of their computer and demand payment to have access restored. Fraudsters also commonly use pop-up windows or online ads to trick victims into believing that their computer is vulnerable or compromised and convince them to download fake antivirus software.

How to protect yourself:

-If you receive an unsolicited call about a problem with your computer, hang up. If you do have an issue with your computer, seek help from a trusted source.

-Install a reputable antivirus software on your computer.

-Do not click on links in emails from unknown senders and avoid clicking on pop-ups.

SHARE:

Navigating to External Website

You are navigating to the external website https://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php?u=https://www.abtbank.com/blog/common-scams-targeting-older-adults-part-1. Please be advised that you are leaving the Adams Bank & Trust website. Adams Bank & Trust does not control the content of third party websites and cannot guarantee the products and services provided on these websites are insured by any federal government agency.

Navigating to External Website

You are navigating to the external website https://www.linkedin.com/sharing/share-offsite/?url=https://www.abtbank.com/blog/common-scams-targeting-older-adults-part-1. Please be advised that you are leaving the Adams Bank & Trust website. Adams Bank & Trust does not control the content of third party websites and cannot guarantee the products and services provided on these websites are insured by any federal government agency.

Share this blog post via email