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Living Independently Blog

Staying Safe: How to Avoid Scams Targeting Older Adults

cyber security_Blog

As more facets of our lives go online, it’s even more important to beef up our personal cybersecurity detail. According to the FBI, U.S. senior citizens lost nearly $1 billion in scams in 2020, with a total of 105,301 people over the age of 65 victimized.

Although older adults may be more vulnerable to financial scams than the rest of the population, it is possible to guard your finances from fraud if you have the right information. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) identified the following top 10 scams for you to be aware of – as well as steps you can take to protect yourself:

  1. Government imposter scams. Using urgency and fear, people may pretend to represent government entities such as the IRS, Medicare and the Social Security Administration and call older adults with false reasons to give out personal information. Legitimate government agencies will never ask for personal information on the phone, so if you receive a call like this, refuse to disclose anything and hang up immediately.

  2. Medicare/health insurance scams. In this situation, the caller pretends to represent Medicare in order to obtain your personal information. Another scenario involves scammers providing fake services for the elderly at makeshift mobile clinics and claiming that Medicare will reimburse the cost – which never happens. To seem more authentic, Medicare scams try to align with the “latest” medical research.

  3. The grandparent scam. This scam establishes a false identity as the victim’s “grandchild,” then asks for money for seemingly plausible reasons, like rent money or car repairs.

  4. Sweepstakes & lottery scams. The older adult is told they are a winner but need to provide personal payment information in order to claim the prize.

  5. Robocalls/phone scams. Sophisticated technology dials large numbers of people and cheats victims using a range of different tactics – from renewing an expired car warranty to recording a voice signature that will authorize unwanted charges on stolen credit cards.

  6. Computer tech support scams. A pop-up message or blank screen appears on a computer or phone saying that your device needs to be fixed by calling a support number for help. Scammers then request remote access to your computer or for payment to make repairs.

  7. Internet and email fraud. Pop-up windows, phishing emails and text messages that all appear real can trick older adults into clicking on or replying to them, giving up valuable personal information that can be used to steal money.

  8. Romance scams. Con artists are increasingly using dating platforms and social media to create elaborate fake profiles and exploiting the loneliness of older adults for financial gain.

  9. Charity scams. Scammers rely on the goodwill of older adults to keep money that they say they’re raising for a charitable cause, possibly under a name similar to a legitimate charity.

  10. Elder financial abuse. Sadly, friends or family whom older adults already know and trust may try to access a senior citizen’s money or assets for their own gain, sometimes even withholding care as a means to gain control.

Envisage® encourages you to stay vigilant to avoid falling victim to scams. Above all, never give your personal information over the phone or internet unless you are 100% certain that it’s a secure source.