Sage Advice: Stop the Scam

Sage Advice: Stop the Scam

Every Year, Scammers Steal Hundreds of Millions from Seniors. Here Are Some Ways to Stop the Scam. 

The senior population is a vulnerable group that is often targeted by scammers. In fact, in 2021, there were 92,371 senior victims of fraud, resulting in $1.7 billion in losses*, with likely more stolen in unreported incidents. As people age, they may become more trusting and less skeptical, making them more susceptible to fraud. Additionally, many senior individuals may not be as tech-savvy as younger generations, making them easier targets for online scams. 

One of the most important ways of preventing seniors from being scammed is to encourage them to be cautious with their personal information. This can include things like their social security number, bank account information and other sensitive details. Scammers often try to obtain this information from seniors in order to steal their identity or money, so it’s important to stress the importance of keeping this information private.

It’s also a good idea to encourage seniors to seek help if they feel unsure about something. This can include asking a family member or friend for their opinion or even contacting local law enforcement for guidance. Many police departments have programs in place to help elderly individuals who may be vulnerable to scams, so it’s worth exploring these options.

It’s critically important to educate seniors about the types of scams that are out there. There are a variety of different schemes that scammers may try, and by educating seniors about these scams, you can help them recognize when something seems off and avoid falling victim to the scam.

Here are some of the most common scams that target seniors:

  • Government Impersonation Scams-Scammers call unsuspecting older adults and pretend to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security Administration, or Medicare. They may say the victim has unpaid taxes and threaten arrest or deportation if they don’t pay up immediately. 
  • Phone Scams-Criminals will call seniors and pretend to be a legitimate company or organization, asking for personal information or money.
  • Email Scams-Scammers will send emails to elderly individuals posing as a trustworthy source, such as a bank or government agency, asking for personal information or money.
  • Investment Scams-Seniors are targeted with promises of high returns on investments, only to have their money stolen from them.
  • Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams-Scammers will tell elderly individuals they have won a prize in a sweepstakes or lottery, but in order to claim it, they need to pay a fee or provide personal information.
  • Grandparent Scams-Criminals will call seniors and pretend to be their grandchild, claiming to be in trouble and in need of money.

By educating seniors, encouraging caution with personal information and seeking help when needed, you can help protect our most vulnerable community members from the harm caused by scammers.

*Waterman, July 27, 2022, The Top 5 Financial Scams Targeting Older Adults,