5 Phone Scams Targeting Seniors and How to Avoid Them
Seniors are uniquely vulnerable to certain types of scams. Phone scams targeting seniors are very common. While the details of the scams vary, one of the best defenses is common to them all. Be sceptical of people who call you and ask for money or sensitive information.
Here are five of the most common phone scams targeting seniors. Avoiding phone scams is easier when you’re forewarned about them!
1. Fake grandchildren. Someone calls from an unknown number and says something like, “Guess who, grandpa!” When you try to guess which grandkid the caller sounds most like, the caller then tries to get you to send money to bail him or her out of jail, or to buy a bus ticket home, or for rent. The money is requested via Western Union. Rather than send money right away, check out the story with another relative.
2. Medicare or medicaid card scams. You get a call from someone claiming that you have to replace your medicare or medicaid card. They ask you for your card number, your social security number, or even banking info. Be suspicious of someone telling you that you have to replace your card. Be super suspicious of someone who wants your personal information, especially if they called you. If it seems like the call might be legit, it’s still fine to make a call to your local medicare or medicaid office and make sure.
Caution is Key for Avoiding Phone Scams
3. Disaster scammers. This is a very bad, but also very common scam. After a natural disaster, you take a call from a person who says they represent a charity. Won’t you please donate, they ask. Before you hand over your credit card information, know that very few charities solicit donations over the phone. Again, it’s better to hang up and call a charity yourself to make sure your money goes to help people in need.
4. Lottery or sweepstakes scams. You’re told that you won a lottery or other contest. Maybe you don’t even remember entering. No matter, you’re promised a boat load of money. But there’s one little problem. You need to send a small payment to unlock your winnings. The worst of these scams will string people along for weeks or months, dangling promises and extracting a ton of money. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
5. Investment scams. Someone you know slightly offers you a great investment opportunity. For just a small initial investment, you can be part of something that gives huge returns. It’s natural to be concerned about your financial future after you retire. However, never allow your fears to cloud your good judgement. A genuine investment opportunity should not disappear overnight. Talk to someone you trust if something sounds a bit too good to be true.
The same principles of healthy scepticism, never giving your personal information to someone you don’t know is safe, and talking over suspicious offers with a trusted family member apply equally to email scams, too.