7 Scams Targeting Seniors and How to Protect Yourself

Scammers can and do target people of any age. However, scams targeting seniors are becoming more common and causing significant impact. Why? Because mature adults, especially those planning for retirement, often have substantial nest eggs, making them a natural target for scams.

Here are the 7 most common scams targeting people age 65 or older.

  • Stimulus check scams
  • COVID-19 vaccine scams
  • Home cleaning scams
  • Sick family member scams
  • Email and phishing scams
  • Lottery sweepstakes scams
  • Medicare and insurance scams

Understand and Protect Yourself from Scams

1. Stimulus Checks Scams

Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), many Americans received Economic Impact Payments, called stimulus checks. Most adults received a payment in their bank account, as a prepaid debit card or as a physical check.

Now that those checks have gone through, scammers are starting to take advantage of the situation. Scammers might call you claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to discuss problems with your stimulus check payment or future checks. During the call, they might ask for your banking information or social security numbers. This is a scam.

The first thing to remember is that the IRS only contacts people by mail – never by phone, email or text. If you receive a call from the IRS, simply hang up the phone or delete texts and emails without clicking on any links. To further protect yourself, make sure you’re educated about the stimulus payments and how they’ll affect you.

2. COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

False cures and vaccines are another scam related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and since COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon, neither are these scams. You might receive a phone call or email about products and vaccines that will keep you safe, and the caller might ask for payment upfront.

Like our first scam, the best defense is being well-informed about COVID-19 and the treatment and prevention methods currently available. As of this writing, there are no known cures or government-approved vaccines for the coronavirus. Projections indicate a vaccine may be available early in 2021.

Hang up the phone and avoid clicking any links in emails or texts to avoid getting hurt by this scam. The best ways to keep healthy are to practice physical distancing and to wash your hands frequently. For trusted information, you can ask your doctor or review guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

3. Home Cleaning Scams

Along with advertising phony COVID-19 treatments, scammers might try to trick you into fake home cleaning services. Scammers have gone to people’s doors or contacted them by phone to arrange cleaning. They ask for bank information or debit card numbers for payment.

These criminals are trying to steal money from bank accounts or steal possessions if they gain access to your home. You can stay safe by ensuring you only answer the door to people you know. Even if the scammers come to the door dressed in protective gear, they should not be allowed in.

What happens if you did arrange for cleaning services and don’t know if the people outside are scammers or real workers? Make a call to the company to verify names and other contact information.

4. Sick Family Member Scams

In another type of phone scam, people may call claiming to be your relative with a sick family member. They say they’re facing thousands of dollars in medical bills or other expenses they can’t afford.

You may want to believe this person, but you shouldn’t. It’s best to end the call as quickly as possible, stating, “I’m sorry but I cannot help.” If there’s a possibility that the call was legitimate, contact a friend, child or grandchild and ask them to verify the person’s identity.

5. Email and Phishing Scams

The email and phishing scam is a common one. You might check your email account and discover a new email that contains a link. These emails may say that:

  • There’s a problem with one of your accounts
  • You need to confirm your information for a subscription or service
  • You need to confirm a payment you recently made
  • You’re eligible for a coupon or free items

There are different types of messages in phishing emails, so you should always be on the lookout for anything that seems suspicious. Clicking on unknown or unfamiliar links could result in scammers installing viruses or malware that gives them access to secure passwords and other personal information.

Even if you think the email is from a trusted friend or family member, you should not open any attachments or click any links. When in doubt, be cautious. Contact the person you believe sent the email to confirm it’s really from them before clicking links or opening attachments.

6. Lottery Sweepstakes Scams

Winning the lottery is a dream for many people, and the thought of it goes hand-in-hand with retirement. This is association is how scammers take advantage of those aged 65+. If you receive a phone call, email or letter about winning the lottery, you could end up losing money rather than receiving it.

The scammers may state you’ve won the lottery, but you must send a gift card to receive the money or a wire transfer or check to cover taxes and fees. They might ask for personal information as well.

However, if you have truly won money from a lottery, you won’t be required to pay in advance. You can ask for a trusted second opinion if unsure, but you should never pay money to receive money.

7. Medicare and Insurance Scams

When you become eligible for Medicare at age 65, your risk of being targeted by health coverage scams increases significantly. Most Medicare scams happen over the phone, when scammers pretend to be a Medicare representative asking to verify personal information. If they get access to your account numbers, they can illegally bill Medicare for false charges and then keep the money.

Scammers also pretend to be from companies selling life insurance or auto insurance. Typically, they go to great lengths to convince you to sign up for insurance and to hand over financial or personal information.

If you’re concerned you’re being targeted for this type of scam, remember that you should not have to provide personal information to any representative calling unexpectedly. Review all your insurance and benefits information ahead of time so you know what you have and what you need as well. Being prepared will make it easier to say “no” and put down the phone. If anything seems suspicious, it’s best to contact Medicare or their insurance company to verify the claims.

Stay Safe at a Caring Retirement Community

No one will ever be completely safe from scams, but living in a retirement community dedicated to your well-being can greatly reduce your risk. At The Cabana at Jensen Dunes, your peace of mind is our top priority.

Team members at this beautiful assisted living and memory care community take the time to learn about and how to make your life better, including addressing your concerns about scams. We’re here to help you protect yourself and your retirement funds so you can live the lifestyle you want. We also offer amenities and services designed for optimal wellness, such as help with daily tasks.

If you or someone you know is looking for a supportive living environment near Port St. Lucie in Florida, we encourage you to contact us. Senior living experts are here to answer your questions and help you find the right living option for your unique needs. You can also download our free Assisted Living Guide for more information.