The FBI estimates that senior citizens lose more than $3 billion each year to financial scams. This number has more than doubled since 2019. Although other age groups are falling for scams, the median loss of money is higher for seniors. When we hear about a scam, we often wonder who would fall for it. In reality, there are many different scams that play upon your emotions, which can cloud your logic. It is easy to wonder why someone fell for it when we hear about it on the news, but when living in the situation, emotions take over.
There are three types of scams that we see very often:
- Government Imposter Scams
- Tech Support Scams
- Grandparent Scams
Government Imposter Scams
In the Government Imposter Scams, you are contacted by someone claiming that your Social Security is being suspended due to an urgent problem with your account. The goal of this scam is to scare you into sharing sensitive data like your Social Security Number, Medicare Number, or financial account information. If someone contacts you out of the blue via phone, text, or email, don’t share information with them. If you want to know if there is truly an issue, call the main number of the agency they claim to represent and verify the concern with them.
Tech Support Scams
In Tech Support Scams, the scammers claim that there is a huge, immediate problem with your device (computer, phone, etc.) that needs an immediate, costly cure. They take your money and often claim to have fixed an unseen issue that was never present. These scammers reach you in two main ways:
- Through a phone call or email claiming to be a brand name tech provider like Microsoft. These companies do not initiate contact with customers for tech support- the customer initiates requests for support.
- Via a pop up on your device advising you to call a phone number to fix the problem.
Another red flag is if a company asks you to pay via gift card, wire transfer, or cash-reload card. This is an immediate clue that you are being contacted by a scammer.
The Grandparent Scam
The Grandparent Scam is ever evolving and the one that really pulls at your emotions. A person calls you claiming to be your grandchild and sounding panicked. They tell you that they are in trouble because of an accident, arrest, illness, hospitalization, robbery, etc. They then ask you to send money to help them. Many people fall for these types of scams because there is such panic and urgency in the call that grandparents just want to act. As with a real emergency, it is important to keep a level head. First, call your grandchild or their parents to find out what is going on. Second, contact the local authority that is allegedly involved in this situation to confirm what needs to be done to fix it. These scammers will urge you to just send money and not to contact anyone. Many victims of this scam would have saved a lot of money by just phoning the personal number of the loved one who has allegedly called.
It is important to discuss these types of scams with loved ones so they aren’t caught off guard should they run into any of these issues. Let them know it does happen to people everyday, so it is common and very well could happen to them. Stay alert and always contact the proper authorities should a scammer contact you.