We are all susceptible to fraud. However, scammers particularly like to target older adults. It's important that older Americans and their loved ones are on high alert for con artists trying to swindle seniors.
Seniors are more susceptible to fraud
According to the FBI, scammers prefer to target older Americans for a variety of reasons. Seniors come from a more trustworthy and polite generation, making them more susceptible to fraud schemes. They also are more likely to own a home and consequently have strong credit, an attractive trait to con artists. These reasons, as well as many others, make older adults viable targets for scammers.
Common scams targeted toward seniors
There is a large scope of scams con artists perpetrate. Each year, the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging releases a report of the top 10 scams targeting seniors. Some of the most common scams included in the latest report were an IRS impersonation scam, the grandchild scam, and the computer technical support scam.
In the IRS impersonation scam, a con artist pretends to be a representative of the IRS and demands money from the individual. In the examples provided by the council on aging, the scammer requested the victim send the money to them via wire transfer or gift cards.
For the grandchild scam, a con artist used information from social media sites to uncover information regarding a senior's grandchild. They then posed as the grandchild in distress and asked the senior for money.
The computer tech support scam involved a pop-up appearing on an elderly individual's computer. The pop-up froze their screen, and in order to unfreeze the screen they were required to call a number and pay a certain amount of money in fees.
Protecting seniors from scams
It's not a matter of if a scammer will reach out to a senior, but when. The National Council on Aging provides a list of strategies seniors should use to protect themselves from scammers.
"Seniors should always be wary of individuals who call them asking for money."
Seniors should always be wary of individuals who call them asking for money, and should know that monetary requests from any institution should always be provided in writing — never over the phone. Seniors should always thoroughly investigate any solicitation they receive via phone, and should never provide bank information, their social security number, or other sensitive personal information when an individual or company calls them requesting it.
The NCOA also recommends that the family of a senior be aware of the tell-tales that indicate their loved ones may have been a victim of a scam. Some of these are unusual activity on the senior's bank accounts, or if the senior begins receiving items or gifts in the mail that appear suspicious.
Everyone needs to be cautious of con artists. However, seniors and their loved ones should pay extra attention to keep themselves or their loved ones safe from fraud schemes.