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How to Avoid Scams That Target Seniors

Millions of seniors each year fall victim to predatory, dishonest elder fraud schemes and other scams that target seniors. Criminals will initiate contact with aging adults through direct means such as phone, mail or computer, and they will also attempt to connect through indirect means such as television or radio advertisements. Older adults are of particular interest to criminals because they tend to be regarded as trusting and vulnerable individuals. Older adults also tend to have greater financial assets, making them opportune targets for criminals who develop scams to target seniors.

Jewish Family Home Care has compiled the following list of common elder fraud schemes to be wary of:

  • Romance Scam: Criminals take advantage of an elderly adult’s desire for companionship by posing as an interested romantic partner or companion.
  • Tech Support Scam: Criminals front as technology support representatives to help senior victims fix nonexistent computer issues, and then gain remote access to private information.
  • Grandparent Scam: Criminals pose as a family member such as a grandchild and claim to be in immediate financial need.
  • Government Impersonation Scam: Criminals act as government officials and threaten to prosecute or even arrest senior victims unless they provide payment.
  • Charity/Lottery/Sweepstakes Scam: Criminals claim to represent charitable organizations to gain the victim’s trust, or they claim that the victim has been awarded a lottery or sweepstake that they can collect for a fee.
  • Home Repair Scam: Criminals make in-person contact at an aging adult’s home and charge senior homeowners for home improvement services that they never provide.
  • TV/Radio Scam: Criminals use illegitimate advertisements about legitimate services such as reverse mortgages or credit repair to target senior victims.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid scams that target seniors, and there are also ways to report the criminals that perpetrate these crimes.

Ways to Protect the Senior in Your Life

  • Be wary of unsolicited phone calls, mail, and house visits the senior in your life receives.
  • Keep antivirus and security software up to date on your senior loved one’s devices.
  • Disconnect their device from the internet and it shut down immediately if you notice they have encountered a pop-up message or locked screen, which can be used to spread harmful software. Enable a pop-up blocker on their device.
  • Research proposed offers (names, emails, addresses, phone numbers) your senior loved one mentions to you to ensure other people have not posted warnings about scam concerns.
  • Take precautions to protect the identity of the senior in your life in case a scammer does gain access to their information. Monitor their accounts closely, and contact their financial institutions as soon as possible to place protections on their accounts.
  • Recognize scam attempts against the senior you love, and eliminate all communication with the perpetrator.

How to Report Elder Fraud

If your loved one falls victim to an elder fraud scheme or other scams that target seniors, it is important to report it. Often times, seniors are less likely to report scam attempts because they are not sure how, or they may be embarrassed for falling victim to a scam. Nevertheless, it is very important to support the seniors in your life through the reporting process, and educate them on ways to avoid elder fraud schemes in the future.

To report any scams that target seniors, contact your local FBI field office or submit a tip online. Complaints can also be filed with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

For more tips on how to keep yourself or the aging adults in your life safe from scams that target seniors, please contact Jewish Family Home Care. Our award-winning home care in Miramar and the surrounding communities is a great way to combat isolation and loneliness, and to provide older adults with the opportunity for the enhanced socialization that makes them less susceptible to senior scams. Visit us online to learn more about the ways we can help, or call us today at 954-908-5677.