Learn about common scams targeting older adults
Scammers often target older adults, who they think are vulnerable people with money. Changes in hearing, vision or judgment can make it harder for older adults to spot and avoid scams.
Common scams include:
Relative in need or grandparent scam - Someone pretending to be a family member or friend says they're in trouble and need money right away
Charity appeals - Asking for an urgent donation to a fake charity
Mortgage debt elimination or foreclosure prevention - Promising help with mortgage debt or avoiding foreclosure, if the older adult pays a fee or signs over a deed
"Free" lunch - Offering older adults a free seminar or lunch, then pressuring them to invest in annuities or other financial products
Lottery or sweepstakes - Claiming the older adult must pay taxes or fees upfront, or provide bank information, to collect their "prize"
"Free" trip - Asking for credit card details or cash to hold the reservation for a free trip
Government money - Promising government help with housing, home repairs or taxes, if the older adult sends money or shares credit card information
Drug plans - Offering Medicare discount drug cards through unsolicited mail, emails, or phone calls
Home improvement - Taking money for repairs upfront, then not doing or not finishing the work
Older adults should be wary of any offer that:
Ask for Social Security numbers, credit card details, date of birth or other sensitive information
Require signing a power of attorney form
Pressure them to "act now" or "before it's too late"
Insist the offer be kept secret until payment goes through
Require payment upfront to claim a prize
Ask for payment via wire transfer or a pre-paid card
Sound too good to be true
Guarantee loans, credit cards or prizes
Play on fears about legal or health difficulties, not being able to leave an inheritance or increasing expenses, taxes or fees