Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the things my parents have taught me — from having a strong work ethic and pride in ownership to always putting family-first, while also saving for that “rainy day,” kids’ college funds, and even retirement. One thing though we didn’t talk much about was fraudsters and scammers, and now our older population is a favorite target for identity thieves and scam artists because of the assets they’ve accumulated, the lower amounts of debt that they have, their trusting nature, and unfamiliarity with technology. It’s estimated that seniors lose $36.5 billion per year due to financial exploitation.
In response to the rise in fraudulent schemes targeting older adults, the U.S. Congress designated May 15th as National Senior Fraud Awareness Day to focus on awareness, education, and improvement of prevention tactics to safeguard senior citizens, who account for nearly 15% of the total U.S. population.
Seniors Beware: Four Serious Scams
Fraudsters have become increasingly creative in attempts to con seniors out of their money or personal information, though some scams remain more common than others. Review these tactics with your loved ones to help them avoid becoming a victim.
- Medicare Scams | Fraudsters pose as Medicare representatives over the phone and attempt to coerce seniors to divulge information such as their Social Security number or Medicare ID number. Know this: Medicare will never contact you by phone for such information. All communications are sent through the postal service. Here are more tips to protect your medical identity.
- Grandparent Scams | Another phone-based scheme where a person pretends to be a grandson or granddaughter and plays to the senior’s sense of loyalty and trust. In most cases they will request cash through the mail to help in a time of distress, like a car accident or legal trouble. No matter how convincing the caller sounds, don’t act right away. Confirm the telephone number and ask another family member to verify the situation before volunteering your money.
- Tech Support Scams | My own father happens to be a technology whiz — but there are those older adults who aren’t as tech-savvy. Scammers may offer seniors unnecessary software for their computers costing hundreds of dollars. One of these fraudulent operations advertised on Google, so that people searching for tech support would visit them online, divulge contact information, and give up access to their computer. If you need help with your computer, speak to a trusted friend or family member first, and read online reviews from credible sources like, PC Magazine or ConsumerAffairs, before choosing a vendor.
- Social Security Scams | So far this year, there have been more than 63,000 reports of this robocall scam, where people receive a threatening call that their Social Security number has been suspended. The message will claim to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and ask you to confirm your SSN to reactivate it. Hang up. Your SSN is not suspended and, similar to the Medicare scam, the SSA will not communicate with you by telephone.
Serious ID Theft Protection
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