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