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4 Common Scams Targeting Seniors

Senior Living Tips | News | Here For Myself

As the use of technology increases, scammers are becoming more skilled in creating opportunities to trick users into fraud. 

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), scammers tend to mainly target seniors. After years of potentially saving, seniors may also have excellent credit, making them ideal candidates to scam. Seniors also tend to be more polite and easily persuaded.

Here’s an overview of four common senior scams, including what to look for and what you can do to protect yourself.

Watch Out For Banking Scams

How it works: 

There are various scams when it comes to banking. A common one is “phishing,” where scammers try to get personal details — credit card numbers, bank account numbers and passwords. This can happen through an email that seems to represent your bank and often leads to a fake website phishing people to enter their information. 

Another banking scam will ask you to send money for processing fees, investments, inheritance or for a scammer claiming to be someone you know in need of financial assistance. 

How to avoid it:

  • Never give out your personal information, PIN or any passwords. Your bank will already have this information on file and won’t require you to write out your password in order to access your account.
  • Don’t accept any money or transfers that require providing account or routing numbers without verifying the account name or destination of your funds.
  • When contacting the bank regarding your account, do it in person or over the phone to prevent any email hackers from finding your information.
  • Be careful with Caller ID — hackers are becoming more skilled in presenting themselves as your local bank by using local numbers. Know the number of your bank to make sure it matches the number you have in your contact list.

Senior woman looking at her credit card while on the phone

Be Aware Of Funeral Scams

How it works: 

Unfortunately, even as you are going through a most vulnerable time when you’ve recently lost a loved one, people are looking for ways to take advantage of your situation. They can do this either by being dishonest or by using a manipulative sales approach.

Dishonesty is when the salesperson is telling you that more is needed than what is required. For example, some funeral scammers have been known to sell protective features with fictitious claims or the upselling of expensive caskets that are not needed.

Manipulation can come into play with various tactics. One example is showing the fancy, expensive options first and insisting your loved one deserves the best. Sellers often lead seniors to believe they need to honor their loved one with a higher price tag. Another tactic is having less expensive caskets come in unattractive colors to steer buyers away from those options. 

How to avoid it:

  • First, ask to see a price list before allowing them to show you products at the highest price, or give the associate a price range you are comfortable with.
  • Call around to get price lists so you can compare.
  • Browse options online to get a feel for the average prices of items you are looking to buy.
  • Do not disclose how much you are willing to spend in total with the salesperson.
  • Don’t be pressured into spending more than you are comfortable with.

Tip: There is protection under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding funeral costs. It states that you have the right to a full price list of products and services and you can purchase your items online if it’s a better match for your budget. 

What Is A Charity Scam?

How it works: 

A common scam targeting seniors involves a scammer posing as a charity worker. They begin sharing a sad story following a plea for money to support their “charity” or “organization.”

How to avoid it:

  • Verify the charity. Research the organization to make sure it’s valid and see if the website online matches the number that’s contacting you.
  • While it’s natural to want to help a good cause, don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment. If you do wish to donate, do it at a later date when you have had the chance to research the organization and find the proper way to send money.
  • Be wary of suspicious requests for money. If something feels “off,” it probably is.

Tip: Do not send money before researching the charity.

woman on the phone while taking notes about common senior scams

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

How it works: 

Scammers can access your information and apply for loans, make large purchases and engage in other fraudulent activity under your name once they obtain the information they need. Some information they collect and use includes driver’s license info, your social security number, personal email addresses or your home address. 

How to avoid it: 

  • Limit the number of documents in your wallet in case it is stolen.
  • Hold your mail at the post office when going out of town.
  • Be cautious of public Wi-Fi. Shared networks aren’t always safe.
  • If your social security number is required, always ask why and make sure the reason is legitimate.
  • When creating passwords, don’t include your name or anything else that would be predictable to the hacker.

Tip: To keep your important documents safe, like your social security card and birth certificate, use a fire-safe lock box that requires a PIN or key to enter. This can protect your information from hackers and scammers, and it will allow you to know where your important documents are at all times. 

Educate Yourself And Identify The Warning Signs

It’s essential to educate yourself on common senior scams that could target you or your loved one. But, it’s even more important to know the warning signs and how to avoid becoming a victim. Remember, if someone you don’t know is requesting personal information or money, it is probably a scam. At Independence Village, we care for our residents and are committed to their safety. If you are interested in other educational or informative content, visit our blog.

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