March 30th, 2020
I just got an email from the city of Rancho Palos Verdes on a seminar about How to prevent Senior Scams. The link to the flyer is right here so click this link to print it out.
- Meanwhile, here are the top 10 Senior Scams discussed by the FBI
Social Security Scam: Tens of thousands of seniors in the US have fallen victim to this new social security scam. Scammers create legitimate online accounts with the social security website and redirect payments to their own personal accounts. With over 59 million Americans receiving social security benefits in 2014, this scam targets many individuals’ primary source of income.
- Funeral Invitation: As we reach more mature phases of life, we anticipate more loved ones and acquaintances passing away. Internet con artists take advantage of this sad fact of life and send out fake funeral invitations to lure in older individuals. When the victim sees the email, they click a link or open an attachment to learn the name of their deceased friend/acquaintance. Then malware attacks their computer and steals sensitive information that can be sold to cyber criminals or used immediately to steal money.
- Work at Home Scams: Everyone is looking to make an extra buck here and there, and seniors are no exception. Often older members of a household may want to contribute more to family finances, but this noble mission can end poorly for those who respond to fake advertisements. If it seems too good to be true, requires specialized training, or asks for “training” money, it is most likely run by a scammer looking to get access to an unsuspecting victim’s bank account (or even some free labor).
- Lottery/sweepstakes Scams: Since older internet users may be less experienced than their younger counterparts, they may easily fall for a sweepstakes scam, often in the form on an email informing them they have won some kind of prize (usually money). The email will ask for funds to release the prize money or sensitive personal information to allegedly pay taxes or bank fees.
- Fake Online Pharmacies Seniors have more ailments, and as result, potentially high medical bills depending on the country they reside in. Other times they struggle with mobility and transportation. Either of these issues makes using an online pharmacy a tempting option. However this need makes the elderly vulnerable to fraudulent online vendors. This can be confusing for many people, not just seniors, because legitimate online pharmacies do actually exist. But according to the NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy) 96% of online pharmacies operate outside of existing legal structures, and “fuel prescription drug abuse and misuse.”
- Sweetheart Scam: Many older individuals suffer from loneliness. In England alone, over 61% of all people over the age of 75 live alone. It’s natural for older internet users to turn to dating sites and social media to alleviate this loneliness. Unfortunately, this also increases their risk of falling for a “sweetheart” scam. These cyber criminals lure in their victims with a prospect of love, usually through many back and forth messages. These fake “sweethearts” ultimately exploit the victim’s pocketbook, asking for funds to come and visit or to buy basic necessities. People have reported being scammed up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Grandparent Scam: This is an old trick that preceded the internet: an alleged “grandchild” calls from a noisy location, telling the grandparent in question that they are in trouble and need money immediately. Nowadays, this can also come in email form. Criminals even going so far as to accurately assume the identity of the victim’s grandchild or family member and claim the matter is incredibly urgent. Desperate to help their beloved, this stops internet users from thinking twice about sending money.
- Investment Scams: While investments made online have become increasingly popular, so has scamming people with get-rich-quick and Ponzi schemes. These can take the form of professional looking ads, websites, and videos that detail how other individuals have made their fortune this way. Other times it will come in the form of an email from a trusted source, like a family member or friend. Unbeknownst to them, their email account has been have hacked and a scam artist is utilizing it to lure unsuspecting victims into paying large sums of money they will never see again.
- Fake Check Scams: The internet can be a great place to sell that old couch or elliptical machine, but you should be wary of the offers you receive. When an unsuspecting victim puts something up for sale on the internet, they may be impatient to rid themselves of the listed item and make some quick cash. Unfortunately this is when scammers strike, offering the lister a cashier’s check that’s often made out for more than the agreed upon price. The victim will pay the scammer the difference only to find out later that the check is a fraud. Seniors are more likely to fall for this scam because they trust older forms of payments like checks over secure forms of internet-based payments.
- Charity Scams: Charity scams are old news in the realm of telemarketing, but are their increasing presence online is a cause for concern. Seniors should be wary of any emails that ask them to contribute to a charity, even if the associated website and materials appear legitimate and well designed. Most federal governments have lists of registered charities, and the representative in question should be able to provide a registration number or ID that can be cross-referenced with the appropriate national registry.
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