It’s not uncommon for older generations to be targeted by scammers and con artists. Senior citizens are frequently pursued because they often may be more trusting, have a fixed income, and are less likely to understand or report a scam. They are also generally inexperienced with modern technology and communication methods, putting them at a higher risk of exploitation.
With elderly scams on the rise, Kevin Canterbury of Arizona explains that it’s important to understand the most common tricks these scammers use to deceive the elderly. Below, Kevin Canterbury explores the various common cons, discusses why the elderly are susceptible to such tricks, and how to protect loved ones from being a target.
Why the Elderly are Susceptible
Seniors are often seen as easy targets due to their age, trusting nature, and ignorance of the capabilities of current technologies. According to the FTC, seniors are less likely to report a scam, as they usually feel embarrassed or ashamed of having been hoaxed. Additionally, seniors are more likely to respond to an unsolicited email or phone call, as studies have shown they are more likely to trust the unfamiliar person “in need” on the other line.
Fraudulent Government Representatives
One of the most common scams involves a con artist posing as a government representative. The scammer may call or email the older person, claiming that they owe money to the government or need to pay a fine. The scammer may even threaten the victim with jail time if the payment is not made. Of course, these schemes are without merit, but the unknowing person on the other end is naïve to what is a blatant phishing attempt.
False Lottery and Sweepstake Winnings
Another common fraud attempt targeting seniors is the promise of lottery or sweepstake winnings. The grifter will contact the elderly person to advise of their winning a large sum of money, but in order to collect the reward, fees or taxes are “required” to be paid in order to receive the winnings. The fraudster may also ask for personal information, such as a Social Security number, as “proof” of the winner’s identity.
Phone Phishing Schemes
Phone phishing schemes are another popular ploy to target the elderly population. With phone phishing, a scammer will call the elderly person pretending to be from a legitimate business or charity. The con artist will then try to get the victim to make a donation to the organization, potentially revealing personal information such as credit card numbers or bank account information.
The Grandparent Scam
The “grandparent scam” is one of the most sinister cons targeting the elderly. A swindler will call or email the elderly person and pretend to be their grandchild. The scammer will then claim to be in some sort of urgent trouble, such as needing money for bail or medical bills. They will then ask the victim to send money to help the “grandchild” out of their predicament. Of all the conniving scams, this one is the most ruthless, as it is so morally corrupt, and not only targets the older person, but their family members as well.
How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones
To keep elderly loved ones safe from scams, be sure to explain how they can recognize them. Older family members should be made aware of the importance of never recklessly giving out personal information over the phone or online. Additionally, it’s important to keep an eye on their finances and make sure they aren’t sending money to suspicious people or organizations.
Scams targeting the elderly are unfortunately all too common. It’s important to be aware of the most common schemes and how to protect your elderly loved ones from them. By understanding the risks, and how to spot fraudulent activity, family members can help inform and deter scammers and con artists from targeting themselves and their older family members.