According to a study conducted by the AARP, people over the age of 50 account for more than half of consumer fraud victims. IRS scams, lottery scams, Medicare scams and grandparent scams are common types of consumer scams targeted towards older adults. To avoid falling victim to these schemes, there are a few common scams and red flags to share with your loved ones so that they are aware of these potential dangers.
Common Consumer Scams
Victims may receive a call claiming that the caller is an IRS agent and that the victim needs to pay their back taxes immediately to avoid penalties. They may threaten with financial penalties or possible jail time and ask for immediate payment over the phone to take care of the balance due.
The caller may claim they are a Medicare representative and will try to get personal information from the victim or will offer services in order to receive payment over the phone for new services and enrollment programs.
Victims are notified that they have won a prize or lottery money but that the additional fees and taxes must be paid in advance before receiving the gift.
The caller may claim that they are the victim’s grandchild, family member, or calling on behalf of a family member, and express that they are in dire need for money to get out of their current situation. The story given to the victim could be a broken down car while traveling, in the hospital or loss of a job. Due to the amount of information that can be accessed through social media channels, it is not difficult for scammers to find out information about the family, including names, prior to making these fraudulent calls.
In all scenarios, the victim may be asked for personal information or bank account details. Educating older adults about warning signs to be aware of may help prevent them falling victim to these increasing scams.
Warning signs include:
- Requesting money immediately
- Requesting personal information and bank account details
- Refusal to provide more information when asked
- Manipulating emotions
If your loved one is a victim of a consumer scam, be sure to encourage them to report it. You can get more info on how and where to report from the United States Department of Justice Elder Justice Website.