Learn How Older Adults Can Avoid Scams


Strangers seeking to exploit older adults financially might target them by:

  • Phone

  • Unsolicited "spam" email

  • U.S. Mail

  • Fraudulent websites or online ads

  • Posts to internet chat rooms or online discussions

  • Newspaper or magazine ads

  • Going door to door to offer repairs or services

Older adults can be more susceptible to scams if they are:

  • On the internet or use email a lot

  • Reluctant to say no, hang up the phone or end in-person sales pitches

  • Too optimistic about their chances of winning something

  • Likely to think they can "get rich quick"

  • Easily intimidated or swayed by others

Unwanted offers can be reduced by:

  • Signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry (DoNotCall.Gov or 1-888-382-1222)

  • Registering at DMAchoice.Org to reduce unwanted commercial mail and email

  • Using caller ID or an answering machince to screen phone calls

  • Setting up or adjusting spam filters on email accounts

  • Installing security software on computers

  • Registering at OptOutPrescreen.Com to reduce credit and insurance offers

  • Signing up for alerts about new scams from the state consumer protection agency or U.S. Federal Trade Commission

Practices that help protect against consumer scams include:

  • Never sharing financial or personal information with companies or individuals who initiate contact

  • Always making checks payable to a company or financial institution, never a person

  • Checking bank and credit card statements for unauthorized transactions

  • Requesting free credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.Com

Older adults can shop smart by:

  • Comparison shopping for goods and services, especially ones aimed at older adults such as drug or insurance plans

  • Asking contractors or other paid help for credentials, references and a written work estimate

  • Paying for services with a credit card or check, so there's a record

  • Being skeptical - if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is, especially if there's pressure to act quickly