Scams targeting seniors are becoming more common, and yet we only hear of them in the news occasionally. Have you a friend or relative who has been taken advantage of by a scam artist? People of an earlier generation may more likely to become victims of fraud in part because they tend to be more trusting and less willing to say “no” to someone who acts kind towards them. People who live far from family or who may be lonely are also at risk from swindlers looking for an “easy target”.
Concerned that a neighbor or family member may be a seen as target for fraud? There are many scams that are commonly used by con artists; two common examples follow.
Pretending to be a family member in trouble. The senior will receive a call from someone claiming to be a grandchild in trouble, needing money wired immediately. The caller will say something along the lines of, “Grandma? My car just broke down and I need $2000 to get it fixed so I can get home. Can you help me?” The caring grandparent believes it is real, and offers more information without knowing it: “Steve, is that you? Are the kids with you?” Now the person knows to use the name “Steve”, and more information that can help them seem truthful.
Claiming to be a representative of a bank or other company. The scam artist sends an email or calls the senior, pretending to be from a company that the senior does business with. The con artist will say that a subscription needs to be renewed or credit card information updated, and ask the senior to give the credit card information over the phone (or to reset a password through a fraudulent email).
Unfortunately, the trusting nature of many seniors also leaves them vulnerable to fraud. Please help your friends and neighbors avoid trouble by taking the time to look into the situation before acting on impulse. Instead of agreeing to wire funds to the “grandson” immediately, call the real Steve and verify he is truly in trouble. Never give out a credit card number or banking information to someone who calls or emails you – you should only provide it if you personally contact the company and are certain of a secure transaction.
Most of the people we meet in the world are honest and caring, but there are enough “bad guys” out there that it has become critical to guard your privacy. Helping your senior loved one learn about common tricks may help prevent them from becoming victims of fraud.