Scammers have never let a good crisis go to waste. Scams that target the elderly have spiked throughout the COVID pandemic, including phone fraud and online romance schemes, preying on their heightened fears and vulnerabilities. While COVID-related scams have been on the increase, senior citizens also must watch out for age-old scams that have been around for years.
Common Types of Elderly Scams
As the most vulnerable to COVID, seniors can be more susceptible to scams professing to help reduce the risks of infection, including fake COVID treatments. Scammers also try to take advantage of senior citizens’ good nature by posing as charities that benefit people impacted by COVID. In either case, it involves robocalls or phishing emails, which are attempts by scammers to elicit sensitive information to steal identities or money.
Scam defense tip: Never accept a robocall. They are invariably an attempt to sell something you don’t need. Also, be wary of calls or emails from government agencies. Agencies like the IRS, CDC, and FDA never contact the public offering products or services. Most importantly, never click on a link in an email unless you can absolutely verify the legitimacy of the sender.
Aside from COVID, scammers still actively pursue seniors with tried-and-true telemarketing scams. The pigeon drop scam is a favorite, coaxing the target into sharing a large cash windfall in exchange for a “good faith” payment. The fake accident scam is another favorite, where a person poses as a grandchild or nephew, saying they’ve been in a terrible accident and need money for medical care.
Scam defense tip: To be safe from any scammer, never provide sensitive information over the phone unless you initiated the call using a verified phone number.
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