In today’s world, financial scams are considered to be the “crime of the 21st century”, according to the National Council on Aging. This is especially true when it comes to individuals 50 years of age and older. It is believed that older adults are often targeted because scammers believe that they are better off, financially. Many adults in this age group have their homes and vehicles paid off, may receive monthly checks, and may even have a large amount of money in their savings account. In this guide, you will learn about the 5 most common scams that target older adults. It is essential that you continue reading and learn as much as possible as these scams can be financially devastating and extremely difficult to recoup from.

The “Fake Accident” Scam

Individuals that are 50 or older may have children, grandchildren, or other family members that they are close to and love very much. Hearing that their loved one has been in a devastating accident can be extremely emotional. Scammers know and understand this.

As a result, they now participate in a ploy where they gain access to the names and information of an older adult’s relatives.

Then, they contact the “victim” and inform them that their loved one has been in an accident, is in a hospital, and requires funding immediately – be it for a lifesaving operation, medications, or other treatments. In some instances, they may even call and pretend to be the relative. Once they feel as if they have won over the victim, they will provide instructions on how to wire or transfer the funds.

The “Grandparent” Scam

All grandparents typically have a soft heart for their grandchildren. A scammer will use this to their advantage in order to deceive an older adult. They do this by calling the person and saying something to the effect of “Grandma, it’s me – do you know who this is?” (or, something similar). When the grandparent acknowledges a name, the scammer uses that name and agrees that it is them.

They then inform them that they have a problem and need money fast and will request it to be wired or transferred. In most cases – once everything is in motion – they will say something like, “Please, don’t tell my parents about this. I don’t want any problems with them.”

It could be that their car is impounded, they need to pay a ticket, they need to fix their car, or even pay a bill or their rent.

The “Gift Card” Scam

There are many current gift card scams occurring within the United States; however, the most common is the one that involves tax evasion and/or fee penalties by someone claiming that they are from the Internal Revenue Service.

Once the scammer has the older adult hooked, they will inform them that the issue can be resolved immediately by purchasing a gift card. It could be a specific one or just one, in general, out of a group presented to the victim.

While it seems this would pose an immediate red flag, the callers typically have so much personal information on the victim that they are convincing enough for them to purchase the gift card and provide the information of the card over the phone.

The Email/Phishing Scam

In this scam, an older adult receives information from what appears to be a legitimate business/company that requests that they “update their information” or “verify their information”.

In some instances, this may appear to be from an institution, such as the Internal Revenue Service or from a utility company in the area where the victim resides.

The “Social Security Number Suspended” Scam

Recently, older adults have started receiving phone calls that their Social Security number has been associated with fraudulent activity; therefore, it has been “suspended”.

This is, yet, another attempt to obtain personal information. If the victim believes this, the scammer goes on to say that their bank account will be frozen and that they should withdraw all of their money and put it on gift cards.

They will then request the PIN of the card. In nearly all cases, the scammer’s phone number looked like the phone number of the Social Security Administration.

Steps to Take If You Are Scammed

If you find that you are a victim of a scam, there are several steps that you should take – immediately:

  1. First, avoid all interaction with the person, group, organization, and/or business that has scammed you.
  2. Immediately contact your bank, as well as any credit card companies that you are associated with to inform them of what has happened.
  3. Report the incident to the law enforcement personnel in your area.
  4. Report the scam to both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  5. Contact the credit bureaus and ensure that you opt for fraud alerts.

If you would like more information on common scams or assistance in reporting a scam, you may contact us here at Somerville Bank by calling one of our many locations outlined on the following link: