Retirees between 55 – 85 years old are often the targets of scammers because of their savings built up over the years and retirement benefits from the government. There have always been social security scams, credit card scams, and lottery scams, but did you know there are new ones such as gift card scams and vacation rental scams?
In this post, we will be revealing some of the unsuspecting ways scammers convince older adults to provide confidential financial information. With these details, scammers can gain unlawful access to your financial accounts or personal information.
We have put together a list of the ten most common retirement and senior scams so that you can become informed and aware!
There is an on-going exercise to replace the old Medicare cards with new ones. This is being done to correct a flaw on the old card. Yet, scammers have found ways to defraud older adults under Medicare.
How it works: You will get a call from someone pretending to be an employee of your Medicare provider. They will ask you to confirm some information on your account including financial details. This is the information they need to complete their medicare scam call.
How to avoid it: Never reveal information such as your bank details, names or address to anyone if you were not expecting a call from the Medicare provider. Do not allow yourself to fall for the Medicare scam!
Social Security Scams
How it works: This scam starts with an official sounding phone call from someone claiming to represent the Social Security Administration or a Social Security scam letter. They will inform you of a temporary ban on your social security number.
Naturally, you may panic and express despair about the situation. The caller will assure you that the problem can be easily sorted out after you provide details of your bank account used to receive the benefits. Unfortunately, it’s all a lie.
How to avoid it: The prevalence of this scam has prompted the Social Security Administration to encourage everyone to open personal accounts on their website. The platform is secure, and communication regarding your account can be restricted to this platform. Going directly through the Social Security Administration’s website will help you avoid Social Security scam calls.
Gift Card Scams
It is convenient to send friends and family member gift cards on birthdays and during the holiday season. However, the commonly used physical gift cards are now being compromised in some cases to create a gift card scam.
How it works: Before purchase, scammers access the details of these gift cards. They will monitor the cards to know when the cards are activated. Using the security codes, the criminals will buy items online, and the actual recipient of your gift card will be left with no value.
How to avoid it: To avoid gift card scams, you should consider buying virtual gift cards online from reputable sources which are sent directly to your email.
How it works: In the case of a lottery scam, you will get a call from the con artist about winning. After the congratulatory messages, they will send you a check as the first payment. The scammer will advise you to deposit this check into your bank account and send over money quickly to speed up the processing for another payment.
Unfortunately, after sending the money it will be the last time you hear from them. The check you received is fake, and in a few days, your bank will call to inform you about the dud check and extra charges you have to pay.
How to avoid it: If you play the lottery, be sure to check the actual results of the game you played and match it against the ticket you purchased. Do not believe anyone calling you who tells you that you’ve won the lottery, it’s a scam. If you don’t play the lottery, then you definitely shouldn’t believe the lottery scam call!
Utility Bill Scams
One common scam on senior citizens is the utility bill scam.
How it works: It’s a horrific experience to be cut off from electricity or water supply because of unpaid bills. The scammers call you with these threats. They will claim your account has outstanding bills and you need to pay immediately. Their quick explanation may be that there is a fault in the system, but you have to pay now or be cut off.
How to avoid it: To avoid this scam, you may consider starting an online account with your provider where you can monitor your account personally.
The Emergency Scam
This is one of the common senior scams in 2019 we know about now.
How it works: Late at night, you may receive a call from someone claiming to be a lawyer or police officer that your child or grandchild needs money urgently to get out of jail on bail, or for a medical emergency. There’s hardly time to think, and the scammer creates urgency.
How to avoid it: Hang up the phone and call your loved one. They will more than likely answer your call and tell you they are okay.
How it works: One of the worries older adults have is loneliness. Scammers use this issue to gain their trust posing as potential partners to steal from the victims. These romance scammers register fake accounts on dating sites. They start with stories of working abroad, over time, they build trust and suddenly an urgent need for financial assistance arises.
How to avoid it: If you are not careful, you may be convinced to keep sending money to the scammer. The easiest way to avoid the romance scam is to never send money abroad or to someone you don’t know.
Credit Card Scams
How it works: This scam happens at gas stations or ATMs. When you insert your cards into compromised POS systems or ATM, the fraudsters access your card information. Next, they go on a shopping spree online.
How to avoid it: Make sure the credit card insert at the gas pump or ATM is the usual one. If it looks different, head inside to notify the clerk and pay there. Be sure to always check your credit card statements and accounts to ensure no one is stealing from you.
Vacation Rentals Scams on Craigslist
How it works: It is quite challenging to detect this one because the criminal creates a believable posting on Craigslist. After checking the listings which feature real information, you make payment for the rental property of your choice. Unfortunately, the rental is never secured, and you will be disappointed after arriving at the location.
How to avoid it: To avoid this scam, be sure to verify and contact the person on Craigslist before ever paying. Or use trusted vacation rental websites such as Airbnb.
How it works: They show up at your door looking well-dressed and sounding highly educated. They may claim to work for the government or well-known brands you patronize. Their goal is to make you reveal personal information such as bank details so they can transfer money to other accounts for fake purchases.
How to avoid it: Never give confidential information such as bank account numbers and passwords to someone who knocked on your door, no matter how trustworthy they seem.
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