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Seniors are Continuing to Fall Victim to Common Scams

— November 17, 2023

Phone scammers are still collecting from unsuspecting victims.

As technology becomes used more and more throughout everyday life, there are certain generations that have fallen behind. Understanding and adapting to scams can be difficult, especially for seniors, and unfortunately, many are continuing to fall victim to common scams.

One of the most common scams targeting seniors involves impersonation. In these scams, the scammer pretends to be someone they’re not, such as an IRS agent or a grandchild in trouble. They tell the victim that they need personal information and/or money in order to resolve the issue. This solicits a fear response which makes the recipient feel as if the request is urgent and they don’t have time to ask any questions.

A recent study involving a fabricated social security scam found that 16.4% of older adults handed over personal information without pause. This study was used as an educational venture to bring awareness around seniors continuing to fall victim.

“The IRS and the SSA will never initiate contact with people through a phone call, so you can be sure that the person calling you is a scammer,” said Steve Weisman, a lawyer and author of the blog Scamicide, of agency scams specifically. He added, “The scammers often harvest the information they need to make the call appear legitimate from obituaries and social media. Setting up a code word for the grandchild to use in a real emergency is a good thing to do.”

Seniors are Continuing to Fall Victim to Common Scams
Photo by Ono Kosuki from Pexels

Another type of phone scam seniors are continuing to fall victim to has to do with investments. In these scams, a caller offers a seemingly too-good-to-pass-up investment opportunity, promising high returns with little risk. Often, high-pressure sales tactics are used to convince the senior to invest. Given that many feel financially insecure and are at a stage of life in which they’d like to quickly build a financial cushion, these scams have been particularly successful. Sadly, once the caller gains personal information or money from the person on the other end, what finances the individual had saved up are almost immediately drained.

Scams against seniors don’t always have to be phone-based, either. “A client of mine recently got scammed out of a lot of money through Facebook,” said Patrick Simasko, an elder law attorney at Simasko Law in Mount Clemens, Michigan. “The scammer pretended to be an officer in the army and claimed they needed money to get back from Afghanistan and visit their kids. If you receive a message that asks you to click on a link or share details about your identity or make a payment, press ‘delete.’”

Knowledge is power when it comes to scam prevention, and there are several strategies that can be used to ensure one’s safety. One of the most effective ways to fend off scammers is by educating seniors about common schemes and warning signs to look out for.

Another way to mitigate the effects of scams is to provide resources and support to anyone who has fallen victim so they can position themselves to hopefully undo any damage that’s been caused. Reporting fraud to law enforcement agencies, as well as seeking out counseling or financial advice to recover losses can be helpful in not only rectifying the current issues but preventing future losses.


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