The Reserve Blog

Top Scams Targeting Older Adults and How to Avoid Them

In today’s interconnected world, the proliferation of technology has transformed the way we can connect with friends, store memories, manage money, and access information at a moment’s notice. While these digital platforms have certainly made life more convenient, they also bring more opportunities for scammers to access sensitive information. 

Everyone is at risk of being victimized by a scam, but older adults are particularly vulnerable to certain fraudulent activity. In fact, scams targeting retirees continue to multiply according to the National Council on Aging. Here’s a look at common scams to watch out for and ways to proactively prevent being targeted by scammers.

Common Scams

  • Grandparent scam: Scammers may pose as a grandchild, relative, or close friend in distress, claiming they need money for medical bills or other emergencies.
  • Tech support scams: A scammer impersonates a tech support representative and claims that the victim’s computer or other digital device has a virus or security flaw. The scammer may offer to repair the issue remotely for a fee, gaining access to the individual’s sensitive information.
  • Phishing scams: These scams involve sending emails or texts posing as legitimate organizations to trick the recipient into providing personal information or clicking malicious links.
  • Charity scams: Fraudulent charities target older adults by soliciting donations for fake causes.
  • Sweepstakes scams: Victims receive a notification claiming they’ve won a lottery or sweepstakes but must pay taxes or fees upfront to claim the prize. However, there is no actual prize, and the scammer disappears with the victim’s money.
  • IRS scams: In these cases, scammers pretend to be IRS agents and threaten legal action if the victim doesn’t pay back taxes or fines immediately.
  • Identity theft: Scammers steal personal information such as Social Security numbers, bank account details, or Medicare numbers to commit identity theft, resulting in financial loss and damage to the victim’s credit.

Tips for Avoiding Scams

Detecting scams targeting older adults requires vigilance and awareness of common tactics used by scammers. Here are six strategies older adults can use to identify and avoid scams:

1. Be cautious of unsolicited offers: Always be skeptical of unsolicited emails, phone calls, or text messages requesting personal or financial information, offering prizes or rewards, or pressuring you to make immediate decisions.

2. Never share personal information: Avoid sharing sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, bank account details, Medicare numbers, or passwords with unknown individuals or organizations, especially if you were not expecting them to contact you.

3. Don’t fall for “too good to be true” offers: If an offer seems too good to be true, it likely is. Exercise caution with promises of high returns, guaranteed winnings, or low-risk investments, as these are often red flags for scams.

4. Verify identity: If someone claims to represent a company or organization, ask for their contact information, and verify their identity independently. Look up the company’s official website or contact their customer service department using a trusted phone number to confirm the legitimacy of the caller.

5. Protect personal devices: Make sure your smartphone, computer, and other devices are protected with security- software. This will help prevent malware infections and phishing attacks. Always use caution when clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources.

6. Trust your instincts: Finally, if something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut, or ask someone you trust for their opinion. It’s always better to err on the side of caution than to become a victim of a scam.

If you suspect that you have been the target of a scam, contact the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833–372–8311. You can also contact your local police department or report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission.

At The Reserve, our community is here to help our active residents maintain their healthy, vibrant lifestyle. This includes staying safe from fraudulent activity impacting residents in our community. To learn more about active adult living in Geneva, schedule a tour today!

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