During the holiday season scammers often increase their attempts to gain money or information from unsuspecting victims. The elderly population is often particularly at risk of falling for these scams. According to the Elder Fraud Report by the FBI, in 2021 alone over 92,000 people over the age of 60 were scammed out of a reported 1.7 billion dollars.
Many scams use technology to manipulate emotions like fear and loneliness, often coupled with a sense of urgency, to lower the victim’s defenses. Their goal is generally to gather personal information like a Social Security number or various account information, or to get money directly. There are a number of common scams with warning signs to look out for.
Relationship Scams target seniors looking for love or companionship on dating sites or even social media. A scammer will build a relationship over the internet or phone over time, creating a strong emotional connection and using that to their advantage, often by using a false persona. They will often express strong feelings but be unable to meet in person or on video at the last minute with excuses. This person may also claim to have a medical emergency or other dire financial situation and ask for money to be able to deal with it.
Grandparent Scams use a family connection to mislead older adults. They may call pretending to be a grandchild, a police officer or lawyer claiming to represent a younger family member who is in trouble and needs help, or even pretend to be a kidnapper asking for ransom. They claim to need money or financial assistance urgently, preying on the grandparent’s concern and not giving them enough time to think about what is happening.
Impersonation Scams are when scammers pretend to be from an institution like the government, a bank, a charitable organization, or other company. They may use fear in cases where they pretend to be from the IRS and say you owe money and will be arrested if you don’t pay them immediately. Another tactic is excitement, where they call and say you’ve won a prize and they need your banking information to transfer money or you need to give your credit card information to pay a small fee in order to claim it. Impersonation scams often happen through email, where it is easy to fake an email address and make the content seem legitimate. The email will often attempt to get you to click on a fake hyperlink which actually has a virus, or takes you to a fake landing page where they can get your information.
Unfortunately, many people who have fallen victim to a scam never tell anyone or report it out of embarrassment, because they don’t know how to do so, or because they don’t realize that it happened. If you or a loved one thinks you have been scammed, there are resources like the National Elder Fraud Hotline where you can call to get assistance.
CJ & Associates Care Consulting is on you or your family’s team to prevent this from happening. Contact us today for more information on how we can help.