According to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, older Americans lose around $2.9 billion annually in scams. Fraudsters often target seniors, who may be more trusting than younger adults.
They often prey upon their victims’ compassion and sympathy, and sometimes they can be threatening.
While there are many seniors citizen scams, below are five of the most common scams and how you can avoid them.
#1 IRS Impersonator Scam
The IRS impersonator scam happens when fraudsters pose as IRS officials over the phone and try to get information from you. They may claim you owe back taxes and threaten you with jail time if you don’t pay.
They often ask their targets to verify their social security numbers, addresses, birthdates, and other personal information that they can use to open up lines of credit in the victims’ names.
To avoid falling victim to this scam, never give out personal information over the phone. The IRS communicates through the mail.
#2 Health Insurance Scams
In this scam, callers claim they sell government-sponsored healthcare plans or Medicare supplement insurance plans, and some claim to be affiliated with reputable organizations, such as AARP.
These healthcare plans usually have limited benefits, and some are discount plans, rather than legitimate insurance plans.
If you are contacted by someone selling insurance, check online reviews, and read the fine print for more information.
#3 Robocall Credit Card Interest Scams
Scammers use a robocall system to target older adults and claim they can help those seniors reduce their credit card interest rates.
They claim they need to verify information, such as your credit account number, social security number, and other personal information, which they can use to steal your identity and open unauthorized lines of credit in your name.
Some of these scammers use caller ID technology that hides their identity or displays incorrect identity information.
You should contact your credit card company directly to discuss your interest rates. Never give out information over the phone. Also, don’t assume that a local number on your caller ID is really a local person calling.
#4 Fake Anti-Aging Products
Many products claim to make you look and feel younger, and many of these products don’t live up to their claims.
These are typically anti-aging creams, youth serums, or Botox alternatives. Scammers target seniors with promises of miraculous results, but instead, the products don’t work.
If you see companies making miraculous claims about their products, you should do some research and look for online reviews before purchasing anything.
#5 The Grandparent Scam
This scam occurs when fraudsters impersonate seniors’ grandchildren. They call and claim they are in trouble and need money wired or sent to them, or they claim they are holding the grandchildren and ask for money to release them.
Seniors who receive calls like this should contact their grandchildren directly on valid phone numbers to verify their identity before sending any money.
Being skeptical about claims, cautious about sharing your information, and diligent in your research can help prevent you from becoming the victim of a scam. If you have been scammed, you can file a complaint with the FTC.
Joseph Jones has been writing senior care and aging-related articles for years.
He got his start while writing for a personal blog before he was offered to work at California Mobility in 2018 as the Content Marketing Manager, creating highly informative guides and health awareness articles for aging adults.
He’s currently contributing to a variety of blogs in the senior health industry in hopes to spread information about taking care of seniors and what to expect in the aging process.