The 5 Most Common Scams With the Elderly Online
Nancy Patterson - July 9, 2019
It wouldn’t take you long to list-off reasons why the elderly are often the targets of scammers. And in today’s tech savvy world, those whom have gone their entire lives in an analog world typically struggle with the digital age. They grew up in a world where you had to rely on each other, thus they have learned to trust easily, and there are many willing to exploit that trust and confusion.
It’s an unfortunate fact that because of these monsters, every one of us, young and old, needs to stay vigilant and help our seniors navigate the new world. While it is highly unlikely that you or a senior you know will ever be scammed it doesn’t mean we should let our guard down.
Have a plan for when you come across one of these scams, and become well versed in the five most common scams that target our elderly.
1. Medications Scams
You won’t find it difficult to believe that prescription drug costs have soared in recent years. In fact, you’ve probably been one of the millions who have had to stress over whether to take your medicine as prescribed, or split it up to make it last longer. Now imagine being elderly and needing an increasing number of medications as the years go on. The result is that a lot of our elderly are now turning to the internet (queue danger music) to find lower prices.
Of course most of these online pharmacies are bogus. And more often than not if anything is shipped at all, the medication is either of low quality manufacturing or, simply a sugar pill. Money lost, and medical issues ensue.
2. Social Security Scams
The social security system in our country is meant to sustain our elderly with assistance with life costs, such as medicine, mortgage/rent, cash and groceries. It is not a luxury, it is a necessity, which makes it a prime target.
The major things to look for often appear in the form of a phone call. Someone will call and represent themselves as someone from the Social Security office. They will entice seniors with a “bonus” if they can provide their personal data for confirmation. Another scam will call and require a payment or otherwise forfeit their social security payments. YIKES
3. Medicare Scams
Most of us have elderly family members in our lives who are on Medicare. Every citizen in the United States over the age of 65 qualifies for Medicare which gives a scammer a VERY wide pool of people to victimize.
Scammers will represent themselves as representatives from the Medicare Offices and will call to “update their records” which will require they enter their data all over again. Sometimes they will call and claim a payment is needed to continue (we’ve seen that before… in the social security scams). Threatening a senior’s well-being is a scary thing, and often the scammers get away with a healthy chunk of change.
4. Romance Scams
No, dating is not just something millennials do. In fact, a larger and larger pool of singles in their later years have evolved, even online dating with such servers catering just to the elder generations.
Cat-fishing is something that happens not only to naive teens and twenty-somethings. We often see catfish accounts that try to get seniors to send money and/or gifts. These scammers exploit loneliness without compromise and will stop at nothing to get that money.
5. The Grandparent Scam
Some of our elderly are often easily confused and when put on the spot can get flustered and make decisions that they may normally know better not to do. One of these examples is the heartbreaking Grandparent Scam; where someone will call and claim to be a relative, most often a grandchild. Now, if your grandmother is anything like mine, keeping track of all 19429 grandchildren can be a bit trying, especially when their memory isn’t quite what it used to be. They will call and claim they need money fast, because they are in some sort of trouble, and with the panic and confusion, this scam is very successful.
Doing Your Part
Knowledge is power. We can all avoid scammers by being armed with the facts! Knowing what to look for is part of being able to identify typical scams. You can easily avoid becoming a target yourself. That said, there are many more scams out there and they certainly can be wrapped up in a pretty bow to make them look legitimate. Using a tool like CheckPeople to legitimize some of these scams will help you rest easy.
Whenever a call comes through from someone wanting your personal data, or even worse wants you to send cash, perform a reverse phone lookup. You should be able to instantly identify legitimacy vs a shady scenario. Safety is what it’s all about.