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How to Protect the Seniors You Love from Scams

Protecting Seniors from Scams
Seniors are favorite targets of con artists. The FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, the United States Justice Department, and many local law enforcement groups have all made statements about seniors being targeted for scams. Realizing that many seniors have money but little knowledge of technology or current scams, criminals see an opportunity for profit. Help protect the seniors you love by sharing information with them about common senior scams. Awareness and knowledge is the best protection for your loved one against these predators!

Senior Phone, Mail, and Door-to-Door Scams

Many senior scams are carried out over the phone. These are the most common to watch out for:


Health ScamsHealth

  • Health insurance scams requesting personal information
  • Health insurance scams offering or requesting money
  • Medical equipment telemarketing
  • Medicare billing calls
  • Telemarketers claiming Medicare covers their services or products
  • Blank health forms requiring signatures


Charity ScamsCharity

  • Telemarketers requesting financial information over the phone
  • Claims that unfamiliar local charities need funds
  • Requests to support individuals or invest in new charities



Home ScamsHome Goods and Services

  • Door-to-door repairmen or contractors who have not been requested
  • Service personnel claiming to be sent by a utility company without prior notice
  • Contracts without refund, cancellation, or other legal detailsProviders looking to install equipment without prior request
  • Anyone who asks for money before work is completed


IRS and Service ProvidersIRS and Service Providers

  • Phone calls supposedly from the IRS requesting information or money
  • Tax or service related mail asking for a signature or money besides regular bills
  • Offers or winnings for contests or lotteries seniors have not enteredIn-person visits without prior notice from supposed collection agents
  • “Bank” or “bank card” requests for personal or financial account information




Online and Digital ScamsDigital Scams Targeting Seniors

Often senior scams use digital technology, especially pop-ups or emails since seniors are less likely to understand what is or isn’t valid online.

what to look out forLook out for:

  • Emails claiming someone is in danger or needs ransom
  • Emails that say “RE:” but are not replies to emails seniors have sent
  • Emails about goods or services “purchased” that have not been purchasedPop-ups that claim ransom or software is needed to unlock the computer
  • Offers for tech support or protection software from unfamiliar companies
  • Any requests for passwords, personal information like a social security number, or money made by companies seniors do not have an account with
  • Emails supposedly from known providers or companies that are not “.com” or that look unprofessional
  • Services offered by unknown entities, including “tax accountants” that are unfamiliarOffers or winnings emailed or in a pop-up that seniors did not sign up for

(Federal Trade Commission)


Inform Seniors on How They Can Protect Themselves

family financesEncourage seniors to:

  • Allow loved ones to be involved in their finances
  • Ask a trusted loved one about any requests for personal or financial information
  • Require written documentation before agreeing to a contract or giving away information
  • Ask for a certified letter when government agencies call
  • Never hire someone or allow someone inside if they are going to door-to-door
  • Refuse to make on-the-spot decisions, ask for contact information instead
  • Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry 1 (888) 382-1222
  • Verify with known representatives using official provider numbers when receiving calls on the provider’s behalf



Further Resources:

Download this free tip sheet from USC on how to prevent scams by clicking the image below

scam tip sheet

Sign up for the Scam of the Month Email available from the Middle Tennessee Council on Aging

Visit the Mid-TN COA Scam Prevention Page for up more tips and advice

Request a Directory of Services from the Mid-TN COA to connect with trusted local service providers

Keep abreast of currently circulating scam news from the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability

Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Pass It On page for informative and easy to read tips

Caregiver TipsHome Care Tip:

Develop a list of the names, numbers, and email addresses of seniors’ utilities, insurance, and other finance-related providers. Urge seniors to contact those designated provider representatives using the list instead of discussing legal or financial matters with people who call them.

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