Are Your Loved Ones at Risk? How Scam Artists Target the Elderly


If you have elderly loved ones, you want to do what you can to keep them safe. From retrofitting their homes with assistive and safety devices to giving them rides to the doctor’s office, you do everything you can to protect your loved ones physically; but what are you doing to protect their finances?

Unfortunately, elderly men and women are often the targets of scam artists. The victims of these kinds of fraud collectively lose millions of dollars a year, and once that money is gone it is usually gone for good.

If someone you care about falls prey to one of these scam artists, they could lose their life savings, and the standard of living they have worked so hard to create. As a concerned son, daughter or other relative, you have a vested interest in protecting the people you love, and that starts with educating yourself about what these scams are and how they work. Here are some of the biggest scams targeting the elderly.

Tech Support Scams

From smartphones and tablets to laptops and in-home assistants, technology lets grandparents video chat with their grandchildren, parents stay in touch with their kids and everyone enjoy a better and more convenient life. But that same technology can be turned on the older generation, a group of men and women who often lack the sophistication of their younger peers.

Tech support scams take advantage of this lack of knowledge and sophistication, targeting elderly men and women and separating them from their hard-earned money. These tech support schemes take a number of forms, and the harm they do can be extensive.

In a typical tech support scam, the scammer calls the victim, claiming their computer has been infected with a virus. If the victim falls for the scheme, the scammer connects remotely, surreptitiously planting malware designed to steal passwords, grab credit card numbers and compromise other personal information.

Other tech support scams sell overpriced packages that supposedly increase performance and prevent technical problems. And while these products may be real, they are also vastly overpriced. In many cases, computer owners could get the same performance enhancing tools for free.

If you want to protect your loved ones from these tech support scams, start by providing some education of your own. As a digital native or savvy tech consumer, you can do a lot to bridge the gap, so your elders will not fall for the next tech support scheme. Instead of falling for the next caller on the line, your parents and grandparents can call you instead, and you can provide the technical support they need.

IRS Payment Scams

A call from the IRS can strike fear into even the most savvy taxpayer, and that is why tax-related scams are so productive for the criminals. When the IRS is supposedly on the line, it is tempting to do what they say, as the results of tax non-compliance can include stiff fines and even jail time.

Elderly men and women are especially vulnerable to IRS tax payment schemes, especially if they have been financially responsible all their lives. If you want to protect your parents and grandparents, the right education is essential.

Let your elderly loved ones know that the IRS will never contact them by telephone or via email, and that all communication is initiated through good old-fashioned snail mail. And the IRS deals in cash and checks; they will never demand payment in gift cards or other alternative forms of currency.

Lottery and Sweepstake Scams

Everyone loves to win a prize, and lotteries can be a relatively inexpensive form of entertainment for the elderly. And while there is nothing wrong with playing the lottery or entering a sweepstakes, falling for a lottery or sweepstakes scam could be incredibly expensive.

These common elder scams target the vulnerable and the financially insecure, making them among the most insidious of all such crimes. In a typical lottery or sweepstakes scam, the victim is told they have won a prize, and then instructed to wire money for taxes or purchase gift cards to cover the cost of withholding.

If you want to protect your older loved ones from this type of fraud, start by educating them about how these scams work. You can also point out that legitimate lotteries and sweepstakes companies do not require taxes to be paid up front; winners are responsible for settling up with the IRS on their own.

Scammers are increasingly targeting senior citizens, preying on their trust, their vulnerability and their good nature. If you want to protect your elderly loved ones, you need to take a proactive approach, so they can stay safe in an increasingly dangerous financial world.




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