Scams Targeting Seniors

by Karen on August 18, 2017


Scammers are becoming more and more resourceful and their stories are more believable than ever. Recently, we’ve experienced some new scams targeting seniors. Their frauds are easy to fall for, and are completely believable. We’re here to help you identify these common scams to help you and your loved ones avoid them. We’ve personally picked up a phone call for a loved one and heard the “sweepstakes” call. One of our employees even picked up the phone for a client and got the “grandparents scheme.” These scammers are using manipulative stories intended to convince seniors to give their identification and banking information over the phone. No one should fall prey to these manipulative people and we want to give you the tools to be able to successfully avoid and report them.


Tax Debts


According to this USA Today article, one of the most prevalent scamming frauds targeting seniors is a tax debt phone call from scammers posing as employees from the IRS. Scammers call homes stating that seniors have outstanding tax debts and threaten that they will be arrested if they do not pay their debt over the phone. The scammers are believable and forceful making it seem like you’re actually in trouble.

If you ever receive a phone call from someone stating that they are from the IRS requesting money, hang up immediately and report the call to the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at (800) 908-4490. You should also contact your local taxpayer advocate. Click here to be directed to their website for more information.


Medicare/Health Insurance

Scams Targeting Seniors

Scammers take advantage of seniors receiving Medicare by posing as Medicare representatives seeking to complete supposed “missing” information to get individuals to give them their personal information over the phone. Because all United States citizens over the age of 65 are eligible for Medicare, scammers do not need to do extensive research to target individuals for their personal information.

Be sure to always keep record of health care services and save the receipts and statements you receive from providers. If you believe that you’ve fallen victim to Medicare fraud, click here to access Medicare’s own fraud information website, or call the Medicare fraud phone number (1-800-633-4227).


Grandparents Scheme

Scams Targeting Seniors

Another common manipulative tactic that scammers use is the “grandparents scheme.” A scammer will call a senior and will pose as a grandchild in need of help. The scammer will pretend that they need money to be bailed out of jail or for some other emergency, but will beg the grandparent not to tell anyone in the family. They will then ask for the money to be paid over the phone, at a Western Union, or via online methods.

While it may be easy to fall for this trick and become distressed believing that your grandchild may be in trouble, don’t give them your bank information. Instead, hang up and call the parents of your grandchild to ensure that they are okay. In doing so, you’ll get peace of mind, and ensure that a manipulative scammer does not steal your money.


The Lottery

Scams Targeting Seniors

Scammers will target seniors stating that they have won some sort of prize or are guaranteed to win a prize, but in order to receive it, must pay some sort of fee. They will then either ask for banking information, or will ask for payment to be sent in order to receive the prize. In some cases, scammers may even send checks to be deposited into the victim’s bank account. Once deposited, the check will bounce, but not before the scammers have requested for fees and other services to be paid in full. If you receive a phone call stating that you’ve won some sort of sweepstakes, don’t get too excited and do not pay any fees or give any personal information. This scam really is too good to be true.

These scams may also be conducted via the postal service in which seniors will receive a statement in the mail stating that they have won a prize or are guaranteed to win a prize if they enter to win by paying an introductory fee. These lottery schemes may sound like a win-win situation, but once scammers collect their fees, there is no chance of winning the prize. To learn more about these lottery frauds via the postal service and how to avoid them, click here.



Scams Targeting Seniors

From American Red Cross

Have you ever received phone calls from telemarketers requesting money for a charity or to raise money for the latest natural disaster? Sometimes, these calls can be a fraud. If the telemarketer ever asks for your payment information over the phone to donate to the latest cause, hang up immediately. You should never give your personal banking information over the phone, as a scammer may be ready to record it and use it to their personal advantage.

If you’re interested in donating money to a local charity or would like to help raise money for a natural disaster, research the charity or natural disaster on the Internet. Charities and non-profits helping to collect money for natural disasters often have official websites in which you can directly donate funds, or find official contact information to donate. For example, if you view American Red Cross’ official donation page, you can see that they have multiple methods in which you can donate. Their page also advertises security from cyber attacks, as well as an official mark stating that they are an accredited charity. Look for these signs before you donate to make sure your donation is going to helping hands.


We hope that we have shed some light on the manipulative tactics that scammers use when targeting seniors. Scammers are manipulative and have perfected their frauds, so if you fall for one of their scams, don’t blame yourself. Just always be sure that your personal and banking information is kept safe, and never give it over the phone. A Second Me is always here to help. We’ve been through the scams before and have talked to scammers ourselves! We will always pass on information that we have so contact us with any questions, or check out some helpful websites we found.

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