17 Scam Tactics Often Directed at Older People

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By Jonathan Trent

As older people are frequently deemed more vulnerable than other groups, they often find themselves the victims of scams. Due to their old age and lack of understanding of technology, they are the perfect target for scammers. Here are 17 scam tactics often directed at older people.

Phishing Emails

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One way that scammers target older people is through emails. They will pose as legitimate organizations or trusted individuals in a bid to exhort money or details, which is a trap that many older generations find themselves caught in. Business Insider suggests that the goal of phishing emails is usually to get you to give up personal or sensitive information.

Fake Tech Support Calls

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Many older individuals struggle with technology and they may be glad when a member of tech support reaches out to them. However, scammers will initiate a cold call to take advantage of senior citizens by claiming that their computer has been hacked or has a virus. This tricks the older person, allowing the scammer to gain access to their device.

Romance Scams

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As many older people have lost their spouse and are looking for a new companion, they may decide to join a dating site. However, dating apps have become a breeding ground for fraudsters who assume false identities and groom the older person into giving information or money. CBC proposes that one way to spot a romance scam is if they act distressed or angry to guilt you into sending money.

Sweepstakes Scams

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It can be an exciting feeling when seniors are informed that they have won a prize. However, the thrill wears off quickly if they realize that they have been the victim of a scam. These scams will lure the older person into paying fees or taxes before they win their hypothetical prize, which is a trick to get them to pay money.

Medicare Fraud

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With many seniors relying on healthcare and medical services to help them, they often find that they are victims of Medicare fraud. This is when scammers make contact with them and pretend to be Medicare representatives, requesting personal details or promising fake services in a bid to steal the identity of senior citizens. 

Investment Schemes

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As many older people are interested in investing, fraudulent investment opportunities often catch these individuals out. These types of investment scams offer high returns with low risks that seem too good to be true. Seniors who want to invest should only consult with accredited financial advisors before making any decisions.

Charity Scams

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Charity scams are common among senior citizens as they become interested in giving to charity. These scammers will try to draw donations from older people by exploiting their desire to give back. They may try to manipulate them with emotional blackmail or by putting pressure on them.

Grandparent Scams

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A large portion of the older generation willingly embrace their role as grandparents. However, this also puts them in the firing line for grandparent scams where the scammer poses as their grandchild to elicit money from them. Psychology Today suggests that someone might engage in lying or fraudulent behavior as a way of managing low self-esteem, or difficulties with a sense of self.

Fake Prescription Drugs

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Senior citizens frequently rely on medication for their various health issues which makes them vulnerable to fraudsters posing as online pharmacies. These scammers may try to sell fake medications to seniors without a license which can endanger their health and reduce their bank balance. 

Home Repair Fraud

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Fraudsters and scammers know all too well that older people don’t have the means to take care of their homes. Whether it is by offering home repair services or renovations, these scammers will capitalize off of senior citizens by claiming that they can complete jobs on and around the home for a discounted price in a bid to get money from them.

Lottery Scams

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Although many older individuals enter the lottery to obtain a lucrative prize, they could find themselves at the hands of a fraudster. These people will inform the older person that they have won a prize but will proceed to ask them for money to cover processing fees or lure them into handing over their bank details which is something a legitimate lottery company would not do.

Social Security Scams

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Fraudsters are known for stealing the identity of Social Security Administration officials. They may start threatening seniors with arrest or suspension of benefits unless they provide personal information or pay fines. Although they may appear to be credible, it is advisable for older people to be cautious if this ever happens.

Telemarketing Fraud

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Cold callers will convince seniors to buy unnecessary products or services, using high-pressure tactics and false promises to exploit their trust. These scams often target older individuals who may be more susceptible to persuasive sales pitches or may not be familiar with their rights as consumers.

Identity Theft

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Scammers will steal seniors’ personal information using different methods, such as phishing, or hacking. These scams can be debilitating for older individuals who struggle to recover from them. According to The Guardian, being targeted by fraudsters can be distressing, while sorting it out can be time-consuming, and the crime can have a direct impact on your personal finances

Investment Seminars

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Fraudsters and thieves will go to the extent of hosting free investment seminars targeting seniors. Here, they will promote fraudulent schemes or costly financial products posing as exciting opportunities. They may even invite speakers to the event to try and convince older people to hand over their money to make the opportunity seem legitimate. 

Tech Support Pop-Ups

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Similar to tech support calls, these are pop-up ads that will entice older people to click on a link. They will pretend that seniors own computers that are plagued with viruses and malicious software that they can fix. Before clicking this link, it is best to take time to assess whether it is legitimate or not by contacting a tech professional.

Door-to-Door Scams

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Older people are often visited by fraudsters who will knock on their doors, offering them fake products or services. In a moment of panic, the older person may buy the product or service to get them to leave. However, this can drain their bank account and lead to devastating effects later on.