Anyone can fall victim to a scam. Young, tech-savvy people, business professionals – truly everyone can be targeted. Unfortunately, however, senior citizens may be particularly susceptible. For a number of reasons, scammers often target the elderly. Whether it’s because of their perceived trusting nature or the possibility of a large nest egg ripe for the taking, seniors especially need to be aware of these scams.
It’s important to stay informed on the current scams. Just when you think you’ve heard of the latest, another one unfolds. If it’s an elderly loved one you’re concerned about, sit down with them and talk to them. Provide them with the resources they need to make wise choices.
The AARP does a great job of offering up-to-date information on current scams. Some of the more recent ones the AARP has identified are highlighted below.
A Virus Has Been Detected On Your Computer
In this scam, you might receive a phone call from an individual identifying as an employee of an easily recognizable technology company. That person will tell you that they’ve found viruses on your computer and will advise you to go to a certain website. Even if it looks legitimate, it’s not. Instead, malware is being installed on your computer, stealing passwords, usernames and other personal information stored on your computer.
You Owe Back Taxes
We’ve discussed this one before, but with the tax return deadline quickly approaching, it’s worth mentioning again. This IRS scam may be particularly frightening, as the person calling may claim that you owe back taxes and you could be jailed if you don’t pay them. They’ll ask you to wire the funds in order to avoid penalties or jail time.
The other scenario is that they may say you are owed a refund. They will then ask about getting some personal information in order to send you the money.
Remember, the IRS is not going to call you. If there is a real concern, they would contact you through the mail.
Help Kids With Cancer
This one can feel especially callous as it intends to pull on heartstrings in order to get donations. A door-to-door solicitor or telemarketer may call and ask for centers that help children or others with cancer. The reality is, not all charitable organizations are charitable. Some are using the cause to make money for themselves, donating very little if anything to the cause they say they represent.
Charity Navigator is an organization that helps consumers identify fraudulent or suspicious charities. It’s a good place to reference before turning over any cash or credit cards information to so-called charities.
While you may feel guilty about being skeptical of charities, legitimate charities should understand your concern. You want to ensure that the money you choose to donate can actually help those who need it most.
Protect Yourself And Your Loved Ones
No matter what your age, it’s important to be aware and be smart when it comes to sharing personal and financial information. It’s a good conversation to have with your kids, your parents and your spouse. There is a lot of helpful information available, including the FBI’s guide to avoiding telemarketer scams. A simple conversation could prevent a devastating mistake from being made.