Ultimately, if you ever feel uncomfortable with a phone call or feel like you are being asked for private information, it’s okay to hang up.
As a senior citizen, it can be difficult to identify a scam, and even more difficult to recover from one. Usually, retired adults don’t have a steady source of income to offset their losses if they’ve been scammed. To avoid this, learn about some common types of senior citizen scams below.
- Grandparent Scams
Scammers do their homework, and, as a result, they can find out quite a bit of information. If they know their victim has grandchildren, they may call and pretend to be a grandchild or a loved one.
To avoid a grandparent scam, check with another person that is close to the grandchild, and don’t send money over the phone.
- Government Personnel Scams
Scam artists often impersonate Social Security, Medicare, or IRS officials to gain money. This can be quite effective, as these types of scams are good at provoking fear in their victims and a sense of immediacy. However, real government officials shouldn’t ask for confidential information over the phone, and often contact through mail first.
To avoid a government personnel scam, contact the government entity to verify their legitimacy. Additionally, don’t give private information over the phone to an unsolicited caller.
- Online & Digital Scams
Internet usage has increased for everyone over the past decade, even among senior citizens. Those unfamiliar with technology (and even those familiar with technology) are susceptible to scammers and hackers. Be on the lookout for online dating scams and tech support scams.
Online dating scammers will often ask for purchases or sums of money.
To avoid online dating scams, don’t send money to someone you met online, and check to make sure their photos belong to their name by Googling their name.
Tech support scams will usually tell you your computer has a virus, and provide you with a link to fix it or a phone number to call.
To avoid tech support scams, use a different device to search for their company, and verify their identity. Never call the phone number or click on the links provided. You can also download antivirus software — or get someone to help you do so.
- Unexpected Money Scams
These kinds of scams occur because scammers know that people might be excited at the prospect of receiving large sums of money. Often, these scams take place in a winning of some kind, like a lottery. It’s an easy way to extract personal information that can be used by the scammer.
To avoid unexpected money scams, don’t wire money to an organization that you are unfamiliar with — especially if you never bought a lottery ticket. Don’t give out your bank account number or other information, and hang up if you feel pressured. If they need to contact you — and are a legitimate organization — they will call you back.
Ultimately, if you ever feel uncomfortable with a phone call or feel like you are being asked for private information, it’s okay to hang up. Verify the identity of the person contacting you—and any connections they claim to have—before proceeding. Real people will understand that you need to protect yourself. If you’re looking for more ways to protect yourself or your loved ones, check out the infographic below.
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