People over the age of sixty are often targeted because they’re trusting, more financially secure, and are overall more vulnerable. Protect your loved ones by familiarizing yourself with the 7 most common types of scams aimed at seniors. Criminals use various techniques in attempt to steal personal information.
1: Grandparent Scam
Imposters pose as their victim’s grandchild who is in trouble and needs money fast. They will request the money in specific form (such as Western Union, MoneyGram, or wire). They may even go to lengths of pleading that the victim doesn’t contact other family members about the request to deter them from validating the phony story.
2: Romance Scam
Con artists use fake online profiles, made up stories, and photos to lure their victims in with promises of love.
- Here are some common signs of a romance scam.
- Claims to live or be traveling outside the United States.
- Is quick to escalate the relationship using flattery and asking to move conversations to text or email.
- Makes plans to meet in person, but always has an excuse for it to not work out.
- Will ask you to wire money, send a gift card, or use another hard to trace method of payment for reasons like an emergency or travel expenses.
3: Email/Phishing Scam
Emails appearing to be from a legitimate company asking to “update” or “verify” personal information is a sign of a scam. In one variation of this scam, IRS impersonators send emails regarding tax refunds, filing status, ordering transcripts, and/or confirming sensitive details like personal identification numbers.
Remember, the IRS will never contact taxpayers by email, text messages, or social media channels to request personal or financial information. If you or someone you know is contacted by someone claiming to be from the IRS, do not respond or click any links. Contact the IRS directly from the information provided on their website.
4: Tech Support Scam
If you’ve ever received a phone call or pop-up warning on your computer screen with an urgent message to act immediately or something bad will happen, chances are you’re being scammed. Fraudsters pretending to be a representative of a tech support company will trick their victims into paying for bogus services or install malware to give them access to the sensitive information on your computer.
5: Lottery Scam
In a lottery scam, the con artist informs their victim they’ve won a lottery or sweepstakes but to claim the prize, a payment is needed to cover fees or taxes on the winnings. A check is sent to the victim to deposit, and they’re asked to send back a specific amount to cover lottery fees. Before the check has time to be rejected as fraudulent, the scammer has disappeared, and the victim is put on the line for the bounced check, fees incurred from the financial institution, and the money given to the criminal.
6: "The Pigeon Drop" Scam
The pigeon drop is when someone approaches you, claims to have discovered cash, and offers to split it but asks for some of your money as a show of “good faith”. This is called a pigeon drop scam and the victim is known as “the pigeon”. Once the “good faith” cash is provided, the scammer swaps the “found money” for a look-alike bag or envelope containing paper. Before the victim realizes they’ve been bamboozled, the scammer is long gone along with their money.
7: Financial Wealth Related Scams
People being above a certain age increases the potential dollar value of a scam because they tend to have more assets of financial worth.
Use caution if any of these scenarios presents itself as it may likely be a scam:
- Property tax scam: A letter is sent on behalf of the County Assessor’s Office offering homeowner’s a property value reassessment for a fee. Contact your local assessor’s office directly from their website to determine true costs and legitimacy for any property reassessments.
- Reverse mortgage scam: Scammers offers money or a “free” house in a different location in exchange for the title to their victims’ current property. If something seems too good to be true, most likely it’s a scam.
- Investment scams: This trickery involves the illegal or alleged sale of financial instruments that offer the victim low-risk, guaranteed returns. Also known as “get rich quick schemes”, it’s another too good to be true offer.
Safeguarding Your Personal Information is our Top Priority
In all of these examples, there are over-lapping red flags to be aware of. The tactics involve use of urgency, quick action, and upfront payment typically in a specified manner. If you or a loved one find yourself in any of these situations, remember – don’t take immediate action, confirm sources, and ask a trusted loved one for help if you’re unsure.
Neither Peach State nor any of our third-party vendors (i/e: Visa) will ever call, text, or email you asking to disclose account or other personal information. If you believe you were contacted from someone pretending to be from Peach State or another legitimate agency, please contact us immediately at 678.889.4328.,stop678.889.4328., stop by your local branch, or email us at email@example.com.
If you or a loved one falls victim to a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission on ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Be sure to file a police report with your local station as well.
To learn more about scams and ways you can protect yourself and your elderly loved ones, visit peachstatefcu.org/ identity-theft-and-fraud-prevention.