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Elder Fraud and Scams: How to Prevent Being Scammed and What to Do if You or a Loved One Falls Victim

Kelly Briggs

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With the increase in technology over the last two decades, scams and fraud targeting adults over the age of sixty have unfortunately become commonplace. It is important to know how to recognize common types of scams, how to report them, and how to manage the emotions that can sometimes accompany being scammed.

Three common types of scams:

  • Grandparent scam: The caller will often say that your grandchild or other close relative needs financial assistance and try to have you send gift cards and/or provide bank information
  • Government scam: The perpetrator will often pretend to be from a government agency or department like the IRS, Social Security Administration, Medicare, or even your local police department and ask for personal information
  • Sweepstakes scam: Perpetrators will inform the victim that they have won some amount of money and that they need the victims bank account information to deposit the funds

Many scams have a few key features to look out for:

  • The scammer will often create a sense of urgency and encourage you to act quickly
  • They will often play on your emotions and try and make you feel bad or guilty
  • They will ask for private information like your social security number, credit card number, or even your address

Some Ways to Help Protect Yourself:

  • Stay up to date on popular scams
  • Keep anti-virus software on your computer up to date
  • Be mindful about links that you click on and always check the origin of emails and messages
  • If you are speaking with someone and feel you are being scammed, end communication with them as soon as possible
  • Reach out for help. Being scammed can make you feel shame and embarrassment. However, it is important to remember that these perpetrators are professional criminals and get more creative in their methods every day. If you think you have been the target of a scam, reach out to a trusted loved one for support and assistance and then contact the resources listed below

How to Report Suspected Scams/Fraud:

  • If you feel that you are in immediate danger, call 911
  • If you are not in immediate danger, contact the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-372-8311
  • The FBI has a dedicated department to internet crime and scams. You can submit a tip online through their website (https://tips.fbi.gov/)
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has tips on avoiding scams and resources to report scams on their website (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts)
  • If you feel that you are being taken advantage of by someone you know or loved one, you can file a report with Adult Protective Services by calling your local Area Agency on Aging. If you are unsure who to contact, the Department of Justice has a useful tool to get you connected to the appropriate resource: (https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/roadmap)
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