Older adults are often the targets of scams to steal their hard-earned savings. Almost $3 billion is stolen from seniors every year. Scams over the telephone are becoming even sneakier, with the crooks sometimes obtaining personal information about the senior from social media, including family members’ names. This information is then used to persuade the person to turn over their money.
Here are five common telephone scams targeting seniors, according to CBS MoneyWatch. The stories are different, but they always end with pressuring the senior to send or wire money, or deposit funds onto a prepaid card:
- Grandparent scam: Someone calls, saying he or she is a grandchild who is out of town and desperate. The scammer will claim to be at a police station, in a car accident or needing medical care.
- Jury duty scam: The caller says he’s from the courthouse, that you didn’t report for jury duty, and a warrant has been issued for your arrest. You can supposedly avoid arrest by “paying” for the warrant.
- Lottery scam: This caller will claim you have won a big prize in a foreign lottery. The payment in this case is to cover taxes and fees up front so you can collect your winnings.
- IRS scam: The caller will claim to be from the Internal Revenue Service or a local police agency, demanding payment for overdue taxes to avoid immediate arrest. The IRS doesn’t work quite that fast.
- Utility scam: The threat with this one is cutting off your electricity because of unpaid bills.
Don’t fall for the scams. Giving information to a business you know and trust – and called yourself – is one thing. Giving financial information to someone who is calling you is another. If it’s a business you know, you can always say you’ll call them back at the number you already know (not the one just given to you by the caller).
Hear how financial fraud is directed at the elderly and learn how to prevent it at “Protect Yourself Against Scams,” a free presentation at Arkansas City Presbyterian Manor May 29. Denise Groene, state director for the Better Business Bureau, will go over several scams popular in our area and give suggestions on how to guard against them. She also will review why seniors are more at risk and how to report a scam.
“Protect Yourself Against Scams” will begin at 1:30 p.m. Friday, May 29, in the chapel at Arkansas Presbyterian Manor, 1711 N. Fourth. For more information about this informative program, contact me at 620-442-8700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.