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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

10 Scams That Target the Elderly

 By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay

If your parents are elderly, you realize it’s up to you to make sure they are not only cared for but looked after.  This means making sure they get to doctor’s appointments and take their meds on time, eat regularly, and stay active.  It also means you need to realize that there are crooks out there who specifically target golden girls and guys.  If you don’t want to find yourself in the unenviable position of filing a police report while trying to get your parents bank to cancel a check or reverse a credit card purchase, here are ten scams you need to clue them and yourself in on.

1. Fake Charity Scams – While being charitable offers its own rewards, the only people who get rewarded from fake charities are the con artists who operate them.  Most of these frauds are perpetrated on the telephone, since fake phone numbers are so easy to acquire.  The con is perpetrated by slick operators who chat up a golden ager only to mention some recent calamity that was touted on the evening news.  The operator will play at the heartstrings of the listener, before asking if they’d be willing to make a modest donation.  Once the crook has conned the victim out of his or her credit card number, they will submit a charge for whatever they think they can get away with.  The only way to stop these thieves is to remind your parents that they should never divulge their credit card numbers to anyone who calls them on the phone.

2. Government Authorities – This is another variation on the fake charity scam where the operator purports that they are from the IRS, Social Security, or some other government entity.  Unlike the bogus charity scam where the con artist tries to cajole the listener into parting with their money, the fake government authority tries to bully the victim into coughing up everything from a payment to their social security number.  Fail to pay and a police officer will soon be there to arrest you, or so the story goes.  The best way to deal with this type of con is to have your parents tell the caller that they’ll have to confer with their attorney before they can continue the conversation.  Then ask the caller for their phone number.  They’ll invariably hang up at this point.  (FYI Any legitimate government entity will always submit a notice by mail before calling a recipient.) 

3. You’ve WON! – This is another phone scam that relies on the gullibility of the listener.  Fake sweepstakes have been around for years.  The way the con works is the recipient is called to let them know they’ve won a contest.  To receive their prize, they’ll need to pay a nominal fee for shipping, taxes, or some other trumped-up reason.  Give these con artists your credit card number or remit a check and the only prize you’ll receive is debt.  So prevalent is this con that it was the third highest reported in 2018.

4. Granny to the rescue? – You’d be surprised what the average person can find out about anyone online these days.  Scammers routinely comb through social media looking for info on grandparents and grandkids.  Once they’ve gleaned sufficient information, they’ll make a call to grandma or grandpa to tell them their grandkid is in trouble and needs a wired transfer to get them out of harm’s way.  Armed with the info they read online, these conmen and women can usually get granny rattled enough to make a call to Western Union if you don’t clue them into this scam first.

5. How do I love thee? – Loneliness is another way the elderly can fall prey to con artists.  Sometimes scammers troll online dating sites looking for likely victims.  Other times they peruse classmate portals for information that can not only help them zero in on their prey but have a picture-perfect line to lure the uninformed.  What do you think your mom or dad would do if they were contacted by a long-lost classmate with whom they were friends way back in high school who emailed or called them to talk about old times?  Chances are the only thing they’ll end up missing is their money once this supposed friend takes advantage of their good nature.

6. Good Geek, Bad Geek – If your parents are anything like mine, they’re all thumbs when it comes to computers.  That’s why it’s so easy for a con artist to convince them that they need professional help to fix a problem like a virus their computer.  Even if the supposed support technician offers to fix the problem for nothing, tell your folks to never, ever give anyone remote access to their computer.  It’s all to easy for the “technician” to rifle files, steal financial information, or plant ransomware once they’re let in.  Also tell your folks if they ever start their computer only to see a warning that indicates their machine has a virus or ransomware they should immediately shut the device down and call you so you can contact a legitimate technician.

7. Crooked Contractors – These crafty thieves are especially active after major storms.  They comb through neighborhoods affected by wind and water damage looking to hook unsuspecting victims who they will try to get advance payments from for services to be rendered.  Needless to say, once they cash the check, that’s the last anyone will see of these thieves.

8. Healthcare Scams – This kind of scam comes in several popular flavors.  There’s the Medicare scam where the con artist tries to either glean pertinent information or offers to provide bogus services.  Then there’s the fake prescription drug salespeople who vend phony pharmaceuticals to unsuspecting consumers.  In 2013, the FDA shut down 1,677 websites that dealt in counterfeit pharmaceuticals.  This scam can also include the sale of purported anti-aging products.  Tell your parents to never deal with anyone who tries to sell them products on the phone or online that aren’t pre-approved by you.

9. Investment Scams – These run the gamut from the sale of fake securities to pump and dump schemes that will only result in the loss of an investors nest egg.  Make sure you tell your folks that they should come to you first before investing in anything.

10. Funeral Scams – Scammers have been known to do everything from sell bogus funeral plots to calling recent widows and widowers to claim they owe money for a funeral.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more about saving money on all your insurance needs, check out her website at

1 comment:

  1. This is a great list that anyone can use to educate themselves so that they can protect themselves and their loved ones.


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