Preying on the Elderly: The Rise of Scams Targeting Seniors


With the rise of technology and new ways to scam aging adults, it is essential that we are aware of how predators can target our elderly loved ones.

From imposters claiming to be from Social Security to elaborate online schemes, scammers have developed an alarming number of strategies for preying on seniors in order to gain access to their money and personal information.

According to AARP, a whopping one-third of Americans over 65 tragically fall victim annually.

Throughout this article, you’ll learn about some common scams targeting seniors as well as how you can help keep your elder family members safe and secure in the digital age.

1. Investment Scams

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Scammers know many old people have a decent nest egg saved up and they are looking to protect it so they have money to live out the rest of their lives.

So these scammers will create investment scams pretending to keep the money safe, while earning a decent return.

Sadly, once the money is transferred over, it is gone and the scammer is never heard from again.

2. Computer Tech Scams

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This scam is when you will get a phone call from a person pretending to be from Microsoft.

They will tell you that your computer is infected with a virus and explain how to give them access remotely.

They may even ask for some money to perform the fix.

But it’s all one giant scam.

3. Lottery Scam

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This scam has existed for years, yet many people still fall for it. You receive an email saying you’ve won a sweepstakes or lottery. But to collect your winnings, taxes need to be collected. So they ask for your bank account details, and if you share them, they drain your account.

Another version has them sending you a check for advance payment, then asking you to wire a portion of the money back via Western Union or MoneyGram.

When the fraudulent check clears, they have already received the wire transfer, and you have an empty bank account.

4. Charity Scams

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These scams grow in popularity after a natural disaster. You might see ads online, receive emails from the charity, or get telephone calls.

The charity is one you never heard of before, but they are skilled at making you believe the money is going for disaster relief. In reality, it is a total scam.

The best way to protect yourself is to vet the charity first. Candid (formerly GuideStar), CharityWatch, and CharityNavigator. Also, if you receive a phone call, pay attention to the person.

If they are putting you under pressure to donate or mention you can only donate for a limited time, these are telltale signs it is a scam.

5. Sweetheart Scam

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Some scammers will woo their victims by pretending to fall in love with them to get money. It usually happens online when someone befriends an older person. Over time as they build trust, they begin to ask for financial help.

Never give money to people you have not met to avoid this scam. When asked to meet in person, they give excuses as to why they cannot meet.

6. Homeowner Scams

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There are a handful of scams if you own a home. First, there is a property tax scam where the homeowner will receive an official-looking letter from their local government. They will reassess your taxes for a small fee, potentially saving you thousands.

Another scam is loan flipping. This involves a scammer convincing the victim to refinance their home repeatedly, collecting fees every time. Ultimately, you end up with a large loan and little to no equity in your home.

Finally, there is title or deed fraud. This is where a person will transfer ownership of your home into their name and use the equity as collateral to borrow money.

Because of the prevalence of this scam, a new scam is popping up where companies are pretending to lock your title for a fee. While reputable companies can do this, you need to do your homework first.

7. Funeral Scam

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Another scam growing in popularity is where scammers read through obituaries, reach out to the widow or widower, claiming the deceased has unpaid debts, and demand payment.

Sometimes, the scammer is so brazen then goes to the funeral.

The best way to avoid this scam is to have both parties aware of their finances. Even if one person is not interested, having a short monthly meeting to review the accounts is critical.

8. Grandparent Scam

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The Grandparent scam is more recent. Here, scammers will go online and find people traveling, then call or email that person’s grandparents. They will pretend to be the grandchild and say they are in financial trouble and need money.

If you fall for it, you wire them money and never hear from the impersonator again.

Sometimes, the scammer won’t even do the background work and will call people pretending to be their grandchild. If you have relatives traveling, agree on a safe word they must tell you if they call and require help.

This will protect you from falling for the scam.

9. Remote Work Scam

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With the increased popularity of working from home, this is one of the fastest-growing types of scams out there. You might be familiar with the stuffing envelope scam that has been around for decades. Now there is more to be aware of.

If you are looking for remote work, you must be aware of the following signs that the job is likely a scam.

First, this is a red flag if the recruiter asks for personal information, like bank account details, social security number, etc., before or during the first interview. Another telltale sign is asking for money to apply or needing to put money up upfront to land the job.

You should also pay attention to the email address of the sender. Does it come from a company, like ‘@bobswarehouse,’ or a generic email, like ‘@gmail’?

Of course, you should also pay attention to the classic signs of a scam, like high pay for little work, needing to recruit people to earn a higher income, and boasting many rags-to-riches stories of employees.

10. Fake Anti-Aging Products

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We all want to look young, and because of this, products are popping up daily promising to remove wrinkles or claim to have found the fountain of youth.

While the FDA regulates these products, the reality is, with so many hitting the market, it is hard to keep up. As a result, many illegitimate products slip through the cracks.

Because of this, you need to be extremely careful of the products you buy, especially those sold online. Sadly, you cannot trust the reviews, as many could be fake. Your best option is to stick to the old mantra, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

The same goes for doctors offering anti-aging procedures at a cost well below what you typically find. While some doctors charge less than the market rate, if you find most doctors charging $2,000 for a procedure and another charging $199, red flags should be going off.

11. Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

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With the rising cost of health care, it is no wonder that people, including Boomers, seek ways to save money on health related costs. The most common option is to go online to find better prices for prescriptions. As a result, many fake sites are selling counterfeit products.

Not only are you getting scammed out of money, but you are also risking your health. The best option is to visit reputable sites that offer discounted prices.

This includes GoodRX, Amazon Pharmacy, and Cost Plus Drugs.

If these don’t offer you savings on your medications, or even if they do, talk to your doctor about other options. They might be able to provide some free samples or have other options for you.

12. Email Phishing Scam

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Email phishing scams just will not go away. They work by having an institution email you saying they are updating their files and want to confirm your personal information.

To do so, you need to click on a link or download an attachment in the email. When you do, a virus infects your computer and they steal your identity.

Another version of the scam says your account is locked, and you need to log into your account. The link they offer is a fake site that looks like a real institution. But you cannot get access when you enter your username and password.

However, the scammer now has this info and will log into your account and try to withdraw money.

To stay safe, never click on links or download email attachments. Open a new window and log on to your account as usual. Or you can call the institution and ask about the issue. But do not use the phone number in the email as it is usually fake.

Tricks Advertisers Use

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When it comes to spending, we all like to think that we are in control. The truth is, advertisers know exactly how to get us to spend more than we intended.

By understanding their tactics, you can be better prepared to resist them and keep your hard-earned dollars in your wallet.


Pros And Cons Of Freezing Your Credit

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With identity theft everywhere, it can be hard to keep your data safe. One of the simplest and most effective things you can do is freeze your credit.

The other main benefit is it is 100% free. But it does have some drawbacks.


How To Start Over Financially At 50

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It can be difficult to start over financially at any age. But when you are 50, there is added pressure.

Not only do you have a limited number of working years left, but you also see how well others in your peer group are doing.

If you are starting over at 50, don’t give up hope. Here is how to drastically improve your finances.


How Much Money Do You Need For Retirement

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Do you know the right amount of money you need to enjoy retirement?

Headlines tell you that you need $1 million dollars or more. But this might not be the case. Find out exactly how much money you need.


Live A Life Of Unlimited Wealth

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It’s important to stop every once in a while and appreciate the things you have in life.

And with a different perspective, you may find you are far wealthier than you ever imagined.


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