Top 5 Scams Targeting Senior Citizens in 2022
According to the FBI, senior citizens lose approximately $3 billion to financial scams. This statistic rose especially during the pandemic and continues to increase till today.
In 2021, financial scams affecting the elderly population accounted for a loss of $1.7 billion, 74% more than the loss in 2020. But why is the senior citizen population targeted more often by scammers? Age is a very important factor a scammer takes into account while finding their new victim.
Senior citizens would most likely be retired and have significant wealth in their bank accounts compared to the working-age population or teenagers. The most surprising part about monetary scams targeted at elders is that in more than 90% of reported cases, a family member of the elder was the scammer. Financial scams are considered ‘low-risk’ crimes, especially those involving families as the scammers; hence, the report rate is low.
Top 5 Financial Scams Affecting Senior Citizens and Tips To Avoid Them
1. Zoom Phishing Emails
Phishing emails are sent to people to trick them into giving away their personal information like name, birthday, bank username, and passwords. The email looks legitimate to the receivers because it impersonates companies or institutions like the bank.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reported that an estimated 2,449 new Zoom-related internet domains were registered during the Covid-19 pandemic, sending phishing emails. The email would contain a Zoom logo and claim the users’ account had been suspended, encouraging them to click on a link.
Consequently, malware software was installed on the users’ devices, giving access to their device files. If you ever receive such emails, do not open them or click on any links in the body of the email. Instead, visit the web conferencing platform’s website at Zoom.us and contact customer support.
2. Covid-19 Vaccination Card Scams
Getting the vaccination shots requires personal information like your full name, birth date, address, or social identification number.
It is also mentioned on the vaccination card you receive post the vaccination. During the pandemic, people posted selfies on social media with their vaccination cards to encourage others; however, they might have unknowingly exposed their information to scammers.
The information on your vaccination card can easily be used to commit identity theft and get access to your finances. Thus, avoid posting pictures with your vaccination card or blur out your data while posting. You could also adjust your privacy settings to select who can see your photos.
3. Health Insurance Scams
Citizens over 65 qualify for Medicare health insurance in the US; hence, fraudsters do not need to research insurance companies for every elderly target.
Scammers impersonate Medicare insurance representatives and trick the elderly into giving away their personal information. Furthermore, scammers might operate makeshift clinics to provide services to senior citizens and charge their Medicare insurance.
The best solution would be to avoid picking up calls from unknown numbers, as the Medicare insurance would call from a verified number. Moreover, Medicare does not contact people without permission or randomly request their personal information.
4. Lottery And Sweepstakes Scams
The senior citizen is told they have won a lottery or sweepstakes and need to make a small payment like $1 to access it. After this payment, scammers send a fake cheque to their target, which can be deposited immediately.
However, it takes 2 to 3 days to be processed. Until the elderly find out the cheque was a fake, the scammers collect any fees or tax applied on the lottery prize. This way, scammers end up stealing thousands of dollars from multiple targets.
5. Government Impersonation Scams
Fraudsters might even impersonate government authorities like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Social Security Administration.
The elderly are contacted with the claim that they owe taxes and could be jailed or deported if they fail to pay them. Similarly, scammers could claim certain benefits could be revoked if the elderly don’t provide their social security number for verification.
As a result, the elderly are forced to send money to avoid charges or give away their personal data. It is often easy for fraudsters to get away with this scam because they ‘spoof’ actual government phone numbers, making the number appear legitimate.
However, unlike scammers, the IRS never contacts US citizens by phone and would not ask for payment through gift cards. Thus, do not blindly believe people claiming to be from government agencies over the phone.
WORRIED THAT SOMEONE HAS YOUR PERSONAL & BUSINESS INFORMATION?
With how easy it is for scammers to acquire your data, it’s reasonable to be alarmed. Protect yourself and your loved ones by getting advice from experts. We will guide and even help you get your money back from scammers.
Real-Life Example Of These Scams
A resident of Chesterfield, Virginia, fell victim to a government impersonation scam three years ago. Sherri was contacted via phone, claiming that her bank records were found in a car containing illegal drugs.
The caller stated they were from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and had to pay a large amount to avoid charges. In her interview with CBS News, Sherri mentioned she “went into a state of shock” and recalls sending “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to multiple regions over the country.
At the time, she did not realize it, but she sent this money to scammers and suffered greatly financially. Ronald Miller, an FBI agent, stated the fraudsters who scammed Sherri have stolen $10 million till now from multiple senior citizens.
Similarly, a former FBI, and CIA director, William Webster, also fell victim to a lottery scam in 2014. The scammer demanded Webster pay $50,000 to get the winnings from the lottery. However, he refused to do so and began receiving threats from the scammer.
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Make sure you report any scams you’ve been the victim of. You might not always be able to get your money back, but you might be able to prevent it from happening to you or someone else in the future. Keep in mind that criminals are skilled at impersonating persons, organizations, and law enforcement.
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