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Don’t get taken in by scammers who tend to prey on seniors even more often than younger people. In 2020, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received almost 800,000 complaints on losses exceeding $4.1 billion. According to its report, 28 percent of the total fraud losses occurred among adults older than 60 years. They lost a total of about one billion dollars.
Seniors make good targets, because they often have savings, own their own homes, and are trusting and polite. Also, seniors are less likely to report fraud, either because they don’t know where to turn or are too ashamed to admit they fell for a scam.
According to the FBI, these are the most common elder fraud schemes.
*Romance –Criminals pose as interested romantic partners on social media or dating websites
*Tech support – Criminals act as technology support representatives and offer to fix problems that do not even exist, thereby gaining access to devices and information like bank accounts and credit card numbers.
* Grandparent – Callers pretend to be a relative in financial need
* Government impersonation – Criminals claim to be government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute victims unless they provide money or other payments
*Sweepstakes, charity, or lottery – Criminals claim to work for legitimate charitable organizations to gain victims trust and tell victims they can collect a prize for a fee
*Home repair – Criminals appear at people’s homes and charge in advance for improvements they never make
*TV/radio – Criminals target victims using illegitimate advertisements such as reverse mortgages or credit repair
*Family/caregiver – Relatives or acquaintances take advantage of the elderly and get them to give them their money
The more aware you are about these scams, the less likely you will be to fall for one. Don’t talk with the caller. End the call right away, the FBI suggests. The FBI also recommends that you never react to pressure and act quickly. The sense of urgency is designed to scare you and lure you to do what they ask immediately without checking the deal or company out.
Maintain anti-virus and other security software on your computer and make sure they are up to date. This will make it harder for hackers to penetrate your personal sites.
If you think you have had your identity compromised, contact your financial institutions immediately and tell them to place protections on your accounts. Report a scam to the FBI or local police. That will help you and also reduce the chances of anyone else falling victim to the same fraud.