While the world’s senior population was recently declared the most vulnerable, it wasn’t just for the COVID-19 pandemic — they continue to be at tremendous risk of scams and fraud. Identity thieves and con artists target our elders because of the assets they’ve accumulated, their lower amounts of debt, their trusting nature, and their unfamiliarity with technology. It’s estimated that seniors lose $345 million per year due to financial exploitation.
In response to the rise in fraudulent schemes targeting older adults, in 2018, the U.S. Congress designated May 15 as National Senior Fraud Awareness Day to focus on awareness, education, and improvement of prevention tactics to safeguard senior citizens, who account for nearly 16.5% of the total U.S. population.
Seniors Beware: Three Common Senior Scams
- Tech Support Scams | Older adults are nearly five times more likely than younger people to report losing money on a tech support scam. Scammers take advantage of their lack of expertise and pretend they’re tech support from well-known companies, such as Microsoft or Apple. Their goal is for you to pay for services you don’t need or hack into our devices by having you click on an email, text, or pop-up, or may also try calling you, hoping you’ll react to an “urgent problem” with your computer. Keep your computer’s security software up to date and if you suspect a computer problem, run a security scan to find and remove malware.
- Government Imposter Scams | The Social Security Administration (SSA) continues to warn Medicare beneficiaries that scammers are still using the pandemic to exploit victims. Posing as representatives from the U.S. Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service, the SAA, and other government agencies, these fraudsters call, email, and text to convince their victims to provide personal information and Social Security numbers. In 2021, more than 396,000 incidents of imposters pretending to be from a government agency were reported, and more than $442 million in losses were reported. Government agencies 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.
- Account Takeover Scam Texts | Fraudsters send fake text messages claiming there’s an issue with an account — whether it’s a credit card, bank account, or online retailer account. Their goal is to get you to click on the link they’ve sent so you’ll voluntarily provide your personal information. Be wary of any text message that sounds urgent, regardless of how realistic the message may be. If you want to see if the alert is real or fake, go to the official website of the organization and contact the customer service number listed there. Don’t call numbers or click any links in the suspicious message.
Remind your loved ones that they should never give out personal, financial, or medical information over the phone.