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Safeguarding Seniors: Top 10 Scams and How To Protect Your Finances

top scams against seniors

It’s another sunshine-filled and perfectly tempered afternoon in America’s Finest City, and your phone rings with an unfamiliar number flashing on the screen. After answering, you’re greeted by a smooth-talking voice saying you’re the lucky winner of a 10-day luxury Alaskan cruise. And all you need to do to claim your dream vacation is pay a “small” fee.

For many older adults, this scenario sets off alarm bells. But for others, it’s just one of the many elderly scams targeting those in their golden years. Scammers often prey on seniors, taking advantage of their life savings, trusting nature and the potential for cognitive decline or impairment.

In this second installment of Casa de las Campanas’ blog series on the finances of aging, we’re tackling a crucial and all-too-common issue of the digital age: senior citizen scams. But there are ways you can stay senior scam savvy and protect your hard-earned assets and personal information.

By staying vigilant and informed, you can defend against financial scams. Let’s explore the top 10 scams targeting seniors and how to avoid falling victim.

  1. 1. Medicare fraud: Scammers posing as Medicare representatives trying to obtain personal information or bill for fake services is a typical senior scam. Protect yourself by never sharing your Medicare number with anyone other than trusted care providers.
  2. 2. Grandparent scams: Fraudsters pretend to be a grandchild in distress, requesting urgent financial assistance. Always verify the caller’s identity, and avoid sharing personal details over the phone. Perhaps make it your policy to only give money to grandchildren in person or through their parents.
  3. 3. Social Security impersonation: Fraudsters impersonate Social Security Administration officials to trick seniors into revealing sensitive information or sending money. Remember, the SSA will never call to request personal information or payment.
  4. 4. Romance scams: Older adults seeking companionship online may fall victim to romance scams where perpetrators build false relationships to extort money.
  5. 5. Tech support scams: Tricksters pose as tech support agents, claiming your computer has a virus and requesting remote access or payment for services.
  6. 6. Investment scams: Fraudulent investment schemes promise high returns with low risk, preying on seniors’ desire for financial security. Always research investments thoroughly and consult with a trusted financial advisor.
  7. 7. Sweepstakes/lottery scams: Seniors receive notifications of lottery or sweepstakes winnings but must pay fees or taxes to claim the prize. Remember, legitimate lotteries don’t require payment to receive winnings.
  8. 8. Home repair scams: Scammers offer home repair services at inflated prices or perform unnecessary repairs, targeting older adults with limited mobility. (Tip: You won’t have to worry about home repairs when enjoying a maintenance-free retirement lifestyle at Casa de las Campanas.)
  9. 9. Phishing emails/texts: Seniors may receive deceptive emails or texts containing links or attachments designed to steal personal information. Never click on a link sent to you via text or email.
  10. 10. Identity theft: Older adults are at risk of having their personal information stolen and used to open accounts or make fraudulent purchases.

Outsmarting Fraudsters and Avoiding Senior Citizen Scams

Now that you know some common scams targeting seniors, let’s discuss proactive steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.

  • Stay informed: Educate yourself about common scams targeting seniors and learn to recognize warning signs of fraudulent activity. Resources like the Federal Trade Commission’s Pass It On and the AARP Fraud Watch NetworkTM offer valuable information and tips.
  • Be skeptical: Question unexpected requests for personal or financial information, especially if they’re urgent or from unfamiliar sources.
  • Verify: Confirm the legitimacy of callers, emails or messages by contacting trusted institutions using official contact information. Exercise caution and avoid clicking on suspicious links or providing sensitive information online. Again, do not click on links sent to you via text or email.
  • Protect personal information: Safeguard sensitive information like Social Security numbers, Medicare numbers and banking details. Shred documents containing personal information before disposing of them, and monitor your financial accounts regularly.
  • Seek support: Don’t hesitate to contact trusted family members, friends or professionals if you’re unsure about a financial decision or encounter suspicious activity.

If you’ve fallen victim to a financial scam in California, there’s support to help you navigate this difficult situation. By taking decisive action and seeking assistance, you can minimize the impact of the senior scam and work toward reclaiming your financial security. The California Board of Accountancy and The Council on Aging offer education and prevention resources for senior financial abuse. Contact local law enforcement or the California Attorney General’s Office to report senior citizen scams.

Notify your bank, credit card companies and other financial institutions to report fraudulent activity and request assistance securing your accounts. Also, contact the major credit bureaus to request a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit report.
Protecting your financial well-being is paramount, and Casa de las Campanas is committed to supporting you every step of the way. At San Diego County’s sole not-for-profit Type A and Type C Life Plan Community, you’re in the driver’s seat to retire with confidence. Surrounded by our vibrant and welcoming atmosphere, you can make proactive, secure choices for your future.

Contact us to learn more about the empowered lifestyle at Casa de las Campanas.

Featured Image: Thx4Stock team / Shutterstock