Elder Fraud: What to Know About Scams and Scammers

Jan 18, 2024
elder fraud scam

Scams – online, on the phone, through the mail, and in person – are at an all-time high, and seniors are one of the most targeted groups. According to the “Federal Bureau of Investigation Elder Report 2022,” “In 2022, total losses reported to the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) by elderly victims increased 84% from 2021,” resulting in $3.1 billion in losses.  But there are ways seniors can limit their exposure and risk. Here’s a look at what seniors need to know to stay safe and scam free.

The most common scams

There is barely an area of life that is safe from scams, but among people over 60, the IC3 Report top 10 by number of victims are:

  1. Tech Support 17,810.
  2. Non-payment/Non-Delivery (7,985 victims).
  3. Personal Data Breach (7,849 victims.
  4. Confidence/Romance (7,166 victims).
  5. Credit Card/Check Fraud (4,956 victims).
  6. Identity Theft (4,825 victims).
  7. Investment (4,661 victims).
  8. Extortion (4,285 victims).
  9. Spoofing (4,201 victims).
  10. Phishing (4,168 victims).

Interestingly, some scams that didn’t make that list ranked high on the list of losses per scam. This top 10 list is:

  1. Investment – $990,235,119.
  2. Tech Support – $587,831,698.
  3. BEC (business email compromise) – $477,342,728.
  4. Confidence/Romance – $419,768,142.
  5. Government Impersonation – $136,500,338.
  6. Real Estate – $135,239,020.
  7. Personal Data Breach – $127,736,607.
  8. Lottery/Sweepstakes/Inheritance – $69,845,106.
  9. Credit Card/Check Fraud – $61,649,198.
  10. Non-payment/Non-Delivery – $51,531,615.

One thing they all have in common, however, is that as long as scammers succeed, they will continue.

Who are these scammers?

Scammers can be the computer savvy kid next door or someone on the other side of the world. According to the analyticsinsight.net article, “Top 10 Scamming Countries in the World in 2021,” Nigeria, India, China, Brazil, Pakistan, Indonesia, Venezuela, South Africa, Philippines, and Romania are home to many. The truth is the actual scammers will likely never be found, much less held responsible unless they are local and law enforcement steps in. That’s why it’s so important for seniors to pay attention to what experts recommend before scammers make their move.

Protect your personal data

One of the most essential ways to avoid scams is to protect your personal information. Keep all paper records secure in a safe or lockbox, never share information with anyone who cannot provide identification, and most of all, take advantage of online security measures including:

  • Antivirus/malware software.
  • Strong passwords (use the com testing tool to be sure).
  • Use only secure WiFi and websites that begin with “https:”.
  • Use multi-factor authentication as described in the support.microsoft.com article, “What is: Multifactor Authentication.”

Also keep in mind that banks and credit unions, and government agencies including the Social Security Administration, the IRS and Medicare will never call or send a message on social media or via text or email to threaten, get personal information or demand money. So, even if a website looks like the real deal, always double check the address to be sure it is authentic and safe. Also, be aware that phone scammers’ phone numbers on caller ID may appear to be legitimate even when they aren’t. In short, follow the Russian proverb, “Trust but verify.”

Trust your gut

If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t, so don’t be afraid to trust your instincts. For example, in the case of online dating, the sixtyandme.com article, “5 Ways to Safeguard Your Heart in the World of Online Romance Scams,” notes that scammers are often sweet talkers so if someone seems over the top be wary. This also goes for callers who make threats, say you are a big contest winner, or offer to solve all your tax problems, as well as for websites with misspelled words and poor grammar, that lack contact information, or have other identifying aspects described in the sentinelone.com article, “What Are Scam Websites And How To Avoid Scam Websites?

Stay informed about scams

One more easy way to avoid scams is to stay updated on what scams are popular. Scammers are only getting better so it’s essential to stay ahead of them. According to the aarp.org article, “6 Top Scams to Watch Out for in 2024,” ever more sophisticated technologies make scamming easier and old scams are coming back around, better than ever. So pay attention to news about local scams and before you fall victim, check the consumer.ftc.gov website where you can search for scams, learn what to do if you are a victim and report scams to the Federal Trade Commission.

For more information about Countryside, please call Margaret Nagel at (517) 206-5000 or download our brochure to learn about our care levels, cost, and amenities.

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