At this point, it has almost become a cliché for scammers to use the stereotype of an elderly, confused victim parting with their money. Unfortunately, few people challenge this notion, which prompts them to wonder why the elderly are the target of scams in the first place. Perhaps a more pertinent query is, “Why would anyone fall for a scam?”
Some experts speculate that possibly the increased loneliness and isolation that many seniors feel makes them more vulnerable to con artists. Others speculate that elders may be more prone to believe ludicrous claims as a result of some degree of cognitive decline.
You might be surprised to learn that the stereotype that “seniors fall for scammers all the time” is untrue. A yearly survey reveals that younger individuals fall for hoaxes and scams more frequently than their elders, losing more money to dishonest bad guys every year.
Nevertheless, some scams target seniors to rob them of their meager assets and income. Therefore, it is imperative to safeguard your assets by averting a financial catastrophe that would be difficult for you to address in the future. The top 12 con games that aim to prey on retirees are listed below.
1. Pyramid schemes
As Americans age, many are looking for ways to supplement their retirement. Unfortunately, some scammers are taking advantage of this by offering pyramid schemes as a way to make extra money.
A pyramid scheme is a fraudulent investment opportunity where participants are promised high returns for recruiting other investors. However, the only people who make money in a pyramid scheme are the people at the top of the pyramid. The vast majority of participants lose money.
Pyramid schemes are often disguised as legitimate businesses, such as multi-level marketing programs. They may also promise things that seem too good to be true, like guaranteed returns or easy money.
If you’re thinking about investing in a business opportunity, do your research first. Check with your state attorney general’s office or the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints filed against the company.
2. Investment fraud
When it comes to investing for retirement, there are a lot of scams out there. Here are some tips on how to avoid getting taken by a retirement scam.
Retirement scams can come in many different forms. One common type of scam is when someone promises high investment returns with little or no risk. Another type of scam is when someone tries to sell you an investment that doesn’t exist.
If you’re thinking about investing for retirement, be sure to do your homework first. Don’t let anyone pressure you into making an investment decision without first doing your research. And if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
3. Phishing emails
In recent months, there has been a surge in the number of phishing emails targeting retirement accounts. These scams typically involve an email that appears to be from a legitimate financial institution, asking the recipient to click on a link to update their account information. The link then takes the user to a fake website that looks identical to the real thing, where they are asked to enter their login credentials.
If you receive one of these emails, do not click on the link! Instead, forward it to the company’s fraud department and then delete it from your inbox. Remember, never give out your personal or financial information in response to an unsolicited email or phone call. If you’re unsure whether an email is legitimate, contact the company directly using a phone number or email address you know is real.
4. Home improvement and repair scams
Home improvement and repair scams are on the rise, targeting seniors and retirees.
These scams often involve high-pressure sales tactics, promising free or low-cost repairs or improvements.
Seniors should be aware of these scams and report any suspicious activity to the authorities.
5. Health care/insurance scams
Retirement is supposed to be a time of rest. However, for many Americans, it’s a time of worry and stress. One of the biggest concerns is whether or not they have enough money to cover their health care costs.
Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who prey on people’s fears about retirement. They promise to provide health care insurance, but then disappear with the money.
Here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim of a retirement scam:
- Don’t give out your personal information to anyone you don’t know.
- Be wary of unsolicited offers of help with your retirement planning.
- Never pay upfront for any services related to your retirement.
- Do your research before working with any financial advisor or company.
6. Grandparent scams
According to the National Consumer League, retirement scams are on the rise. They’ve seen a 400% increase in complaints in the past year. And it’s no wonder why.
Retirees are sitting on a nest egg of 2.8 trillion dollars. That’s a lot of money that scammers are trying to get their hands on.
There are a few things that you can do to protect yourself from these scams. First, never give out personal information over the phone or online unless you are sure who you are dealing with. Second, don’t wire money to someone you don’t know. And finally, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a retirement scam, contact your local law enforcement immediately.
7. The IRS impersonation scam
The IRS impersonation scam is a new twist on an old scam. The scammers are now targeting retirees with the promise of a large tax refund. The scammer will pose as an IRS agent and claim that the retiree is owed a refund. They will then ask for personal information to process the refund. The scammer may even threaten to arrest the retiree if they do not comply. This is a dangerous scam because scammers can easily obtain personal information from their victims. Retirees should be aware of this new scam and protect themselves by never giving out personal information to anyone over the phone or online.
8. The jury duty scam
Jury duty is one of the most important responsibilities of U.S. citizens. It is also one of the most commonly used excuses for scammers to try to steal your money.
One common scam is when someone calls you claiming to be from the court system and says that you failed to show up for jury duty. They may threaten you with an arrest or say that a warrant has been issued for your arrest. They will then try to get your personal information or money from you.
Another scam related to jury duty is when someone emails or texts you asking for personal information to “verify” that you are not a juror. They may even say that they are from the court system. Don’t fall for it! This is just a way for them to try to get your personal information so they can steal your identity or your money.
9. The utility company scam
In recent years, there have been an increasing number of reports of scams targeting utility companies. The scammers will often target elderly customers, as they are more likely to be home during the day and may be less familiar with modern technology.
The scam typically works like this: the customer will receive a call from someone claiming to be from their local utility company. The caller will say that there is a problem with the customer’s account and that they need to make a payment immediately to avoid being cut off. They will then try to get the customer to give them their credit card or bank account information.
In some cases, the scammer may even send a fake email or text message that appears to be from the utility company, telling the customer that their account has been suspended and they need to call a number to reactivate it.
10. Fake charities
As the Baby Boomer population begins to retire, scammers are taking advantage of their generosity by setting up fake charities. These scammers solicit donations from well-meaning people who want to help those in need, but the money never reaches its intended destination.
Instead, it goes into the pockets of the scammers. This type of scam is especially prevalent during times of natural disasters when people are looking for ways to help those affected by the disaster.
If you’re considering donating to a charity, do your research to make sure it’s a legitimate organization. Check with the Better Business Bureau or other watchdog groups to see if there have been any complaints about the charity.
Don’t let scammers take advantage of your generosity. Give wisely to make sure your donation goes to a worthy cause.
11. Sweepstakes and lottery scams
There are many different types of sweepstakes and lottery scams that can target seniors. One common type of scam is the retirement scam. In this type of scam, a con artist will contact a senior citizen and tell them that they have won a large sum of money in a contest or lottery. The scammer will then ask for personal information or money to collect the “winnings.” These types of scams can be very costly for seniors, so it is important to be aware of them. If you are ever contacted by someone claiming that you have won a contest or lottery, do not give out any personal information or money. Instead, hang up the phone or delete the email.
12. Phony health and wellness products
When it comes to health and wellness, there are a lot of products on the market that claim to be able to help people live longer, healthier lives. However, not all of these products are created equal. Some of them are nothing more than retirement scams in disguise.
If you’re considering purchasing any health or wellness products, it’s important to do your research first. There are a lot of scams out there, and you don’t want to waste your money on something that isn’t going to work.
There are a few things to look for when trying to determine if a product is a scam or not. First, see if the company has been involved in any lawsuits. This is usually a good indicator that they’re not on the up-and-up.
Next, check out the ingredients list.