If you type “scams af” into Google’s search bar, the first suggested result is “scams affecting seniors.”
Elderly people are popular targets because they tend to act more polite and trusting, and many criminals assume senior citizens are more likely to have money in the form of retirement funds or life savings. In the case of Internet fraud, scam artists assume elderly people are more susceptible to things like fake pop-up ads and “scareware.” Specific types of scams are also deliberately targeted at senior citizens, such as fraudulent funeral services or offers for fake anti-aging products.
Here are eight signs/phrases that you’re being targeted.
1 Request for personal information
Scam artists often ask for sensitive information like your bank account or credit card number. Oftentimes, he or she will claim to be someone official, someone like a Medicare representative or IRS official. Never give your social security or credit card number to someone who has initiated contact with you.
2. “Please wire money”
Once you wire money you can’t get it back. Scammers often ask you to use Western Union.
3. They seem reluctant to divulge information
Perhaps they claim to represent a charity, one that sounds legitimate or similar to the name of another charity (the Better Business Bureau and give.org have lists of legitimate companies and charities), but won’t tell you details. They may ask you to send them money, after which they’ll fill you in on all the details.
4. They create a sense of fear
Scam artists often attempt to convince you that there’s a big problem afoot or you’re in danger, something they offer to fix for a fee. This can also happen in a case of repair fraud, in which a person shows up at your door and says your home or car is in need of
5. “Foreign lottery”
A lottery in a foreign country or a contest you didn’t enter is a red flag. This will often be accompanied by a mandate to pay to enter the contest or claim your prize. Always request written information about the contest and don’t call a 1-900 number to claim contest winnings (you’ll be billed for the call). Even if they send you a check, the check may bounce after a few days in your bank account, during which criminals can collect fees related to the “prize.”
6. “Get rich now!”
Always demand to see written material if someone asks you to invest in his/her company or project, or call the company the person claims to represent.
7. It sounds too good to be true
If the offer for travel with all expenses paid sounds a little too nice, well, it probably is.
8. “We need a decision now”
Many scams create a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly. Again, always demand more information about the offer and read the information carefully.
If you do find yourself having been taken in by a criminal, several agencies can help, including the National Adult Protective Services Association (napsa-now.org/get-help/help-in-your-area/) and the Eldercare Locator (eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx).
Remember: If you think it’s illegitimate, hang up, shut the door, or don’t respond. The longer you engage a scam artist, the more likely you are to buy.