Of the dozens of types of scams
perpetrated on consumers, many target older adults because they tend to be the
most vulnerable, and they have the most money. As a result, older adults should
be on the lookout for some particular scams that specifically target them.
One of the more unconscionable
scams is the grandparent scam. A person calls an older adult posing as a
grandchild who’s been in an accident or is in legal trouble and urgently needs
money. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the scammers typically
request payment in cash, with the bills spread among different envelopes.
To guard against this scam, don’t
act right away. Make a call to the grandchild on a correct phone number to
verify their identity. If you have been scammed, file a complaint with the FTC
As a group, older adults make twice
as many purchases over the phone than the average consumer, which makes them
easy prey for telemarketing scammers. Some of the more common and successful
telemarketing scams include:
The pigeon drop. The scammer informs you that he
has come upon a large sum of money and offers to split it with you in exchange
for a “good faith” payment made in cash. In many cases, a second scammer posing
as a lawyer, banker or some other trustworthy third party, gets involved to add
The fake accident scam. Similar to the grandparent scam,
a person calls older adults informing them their grandchild or another relative
is in the hospital and urgently needs money.
Charity scam. These occur frequently following a natural disaster, where a person solicits money for a fake charity. Charity scammers often create a sense of urgency, giving older adults no time to look into the charity or think about whether they should give.
These scams can be avoided by
strictly following a few rules:
ever provide personal information over the phone until you have verified the
identity of the caller.
ever provide sensitive information through an email.
be skeptical of anyone asking for money – even if it’s a charitable
organization or family member.