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Top 3 Scams targeted at Older Consumers6/28/2022

older man talking on the phone and holding his credit cardPeople over 60 are often the targets of criminals because they are more financially secure, they may experience memory issues, and they tend to be more trusting. Here are some top scams that are specifically targeted toward older individuals. 


1. The Grandparent Scam

The Grandparent Scam may be the most devious because it takes advantage of many older adults’ biggest vulnerability – the love of a grandchild, and the fear of putting them at risk. Scammers will place a call to an older person, saying something like: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer sounds most like, the scammer has established a fake identity without any effort or background research. Once the grandparent “correctly guesses” which grandchild is calling, the scammer will usually ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem, such as overdue rent, payment for car repairs or even a hospital bill because the grandchild has been in an accident. The funds must be paid via Western Union, MoneyGram, or another similar method. The scammer will also beg the grandparent - “please don’t tell my parents, they would kill me.”


2. The Puppy Scam

Seniors can be particularly vulnerable to pet scams, especially if they have suffered the loss of a loved one and are looking for a companion. Generally, using the internet, a scammer posts a picture of an adorable puppy that is available for an unbelievably low price. There’s usually a heart-breaking background story about why the cute puppy needs a new home ASAP. Once the older person makes contact with the seller (scammer), there will be a number of fees — such as payment of up?front adoption fees, shipping costs, etc. — that must be paid via wire transfer or prepaid debit cards. Then, after those fees are paid, there are often additional fees and multiple delays — such as insurance costs, specialized veterinary care, quarantine costs, etc. In reality, there was never a puppy — and the victim’s money is gone.


3. The Tech Support Scam

Tech support scams targeting older adults are on the rise. Scammers often pose as support or service representatives, offering to resolve issues related to a compromised email, financial account, virus on a computer, or even a software license renewal. These scams usually start with a phone call or a pop-up warning of a computer problem that gives a number to call. The scammers often claim to be Microsoft or Apple — they may even spoof caller ID to make it look like one of these companies really is calling. In another twist, they get people who actually do need computer help to call them by posting phony customer support numbers for well-known companies online. These scammers convince people to hand over remote access to their computer and then make a big show of “troubleshooting.” They may open system folders or run scans that seem to show evidence of a problem. Then they ask for money for supposed repairs and things like fake service contracts.

Always be on the lookout for any red flags that may indicate that you or your loved ones are being defrauded. Educate yourself on the latest scams, be wary of any suspicious activity and when appropriate, file a Suspicious Activity Report with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and notify your local Adult Protective Services agency.

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