Senior Scams

You’ve worked hard for what you have. Don’t lose it to phone scams or other schemes by a scam artist.

This page posts current scams targeting senior citizens that are making their way through the senior community. The posts below will give a name and a description of the current scams identified by the FTC and any contact information we can find for more information or help if you have been affected by a senior scam.

The FBI

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports on its website. “Senior citizens especially should be aware of fraud schemes for the following reasons:

  • Senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists.
  • People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.
  • Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.
  • When an elderly victim does report the crime, they often make poor witnesses. Con artists know the effects of age on memory, and they are counting on elderly victims not being able to supply enough detailed information to investigators. In addition, the victims’ realization that they have been swindled may take weeks—or more likely, months—after contact with the fraudster. This extended time frame makes it even more difficult to remember details from the events.
  • Senior citizens are more interested in and susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer properties, and so on. In a country where new cures and vaccinations for old diseases have given every American hope for a long and fruitful life, it is not so unbelievable that the con artists’ products can do what they claim.”

If you think you have been the victim of a scam or fraud, contact your local police department immediately. The United States Senate also provides a Fraud Hotline that you can call to report a scam or fraud at 1-855-303-9470.  https://www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline. If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to local law enforcement and the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.*

Equifax Data Breach Settlement: What You Should Know

July 19, 2019
By Lisa Lake
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Here’s one that goes to show just how creative scammers can be. The FTC is getting reports that callers claiming to be from Medicare are asking people for their Medicare numbers, Social Security numbers, and other personal information…in exchange for DNA testing kits. The callers might say the test is a free way to get early diagnoses for diseases like cancer, or just that it’s a free test, so why not take it? But the truth is, Medicare does not market DNA testing kits to the general public… Read more here.

For many of us, it just wouldn’t be a summer beach vacation without shopping at the local outlet mall. Over the years, we’ve picked up a few tips for outlet shopping.

Make a list of the stores you want to visit. Next, check out the retail prices of the items you want to buy. Don’t have time? There are apps that can compare prices for you, or you can visit the regular retail stores’ websites. If you’re only saving a few dollars at the outlets, you may want to buy at the regular stores, especially if quality matters…  Read more here.

How To Stop Unwanted Calls

June 25, 2019
Federal Trade Commission

Read more here.

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FTC’s Tech Support Takedown 2019

March 7, 2019
By Cristina Miranda
Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC

We read you loud and clear! Last year, the FTC got nearly 143,000 reports about tech support scams. We’ve been warning people about this type of scam for years. But one piece of information in the FTC’s newest Consumer Protection Data Spotlight was an eye-opener. People 60 and over were about five times more likely than younger people to tell us they lost money on this scam, even though they were less likely than younger people to say they lost money to many other types of scams…  Read More and see a Video Here.

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Romance scams will cost you

February 12, 2019
by Lisa Weintraub Schifferle
Attorney, FTC, Division of Consumer & Business Education

It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. You may think you spend a lot on flowers or chocolate, but losing money in a romance scam would cost you even more. Last year, people reported losing $143 million to romance scams – a higher total than…
Read More and see a Video Here.

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Fight back against tax identity theft

January 30, 2019
by Seena Gressin
Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC

It’s Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week – a terrific time to get up to date on protecting yourself from identity thieves who try to claim your tax refund and imposters who pretend they’re from the IRS to get your money.

Tax ID TheftTax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number (SSN) to get a tax refund or a job. You might find out it’s happened when you get a letter from the IRS saying that more than one tax return was filed with your SSN, or IRS records show you earned income from an employer you don’t know. Or, the IRS may reject your efiled tax return as a duplicate filing.  Read More and see a Video Here.

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Netflix phishing scam: Don’t take the bait

December 26, 2018
by Colleen Tressler
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Phishing is when someone uses fake emails or texts to get you to share valuable personal information – like account numbers, Social Security numbers, or your login IDs and passwords. Scammers use your information to steal your money, your identity, or both. They also use phishing emails to get access to your computer or network. If you click on a link, they can install ransomware or other programs that can lock you out of your data.

Scammers often use familiar company names or pretend to be someone you know. Here’s a real-world example featuring Netflix… Read More Here

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Fake calls about your SSN

December 12, 2018
by Jennifer Leach
Acting Associate Director, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC

The FTC is getting reports about people pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) who are trying to get your Social Security number and even your money. In one version of the scam, the caller says your Social Security number has been linked to a crime… Read More Here

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The Marriott data breach

Marriott International says that a breach of its Starwood guest reservation database exposed the personal information of up to 500 million people. If your information was exposed, there are steps you can take to help guard against its misuse.

According to Marriott, the hackers accessed people’s names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, dates of birth, gender, Starwood loyalty program account information, and reservation information. For some, they also stole payment card numbers and… Read More And See Video Here

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This giving season, make your donations count

November 26, 2018
by Rosario MéndezAttorney,
Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC

The giving season has begun and many of us are thinking about gifts for family and friends, as well as giving to our favorite charitable causes. If you’re thinking about donating to charity, do some research first to make sure your money will really help the causes you care about. Here’s what you can do:… Read More Here

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Money back from MoneyGram?

We’ve all known for a long time that scammers ask people to pay by wiring money. Money wiring companies like MoneyGram and Western Union have also known that scammers have people wire money using their services. In fact, the FTC has sued both companies – which have paid a lot of money to settle those charges – over exactly that issue. When the FTC settled with those companies (MoneyGram in 2009, Western Union in 2017), they also agreed to… Read More Here

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Rest insured, you can avoid fake healthcare plans

November 2, 2018
by Lisa Lake
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

If you’re looking online for health insurance, there are lots of results that seem to offer good choices. But dishonest companies are literally banking on your being confused by all those choices. So, before you sign up and pay, take steps to know you’re getting exactly what the plan advertised. Otherwise, your so-called “coverage” can leave you exposed to substandard benefits and costly payments.

The FTC says that’s what happened to customers of Simple Health. The company allegedly tricked consumers into believing… Read More Here

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Spear phishing scammers want more from you

October 31, 2018
by Lisa Lake
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

“I’m calling from [pick any bank]. Someone’s been using your debit card ending in 2345 at [pick any retailer]. I’ll need to verify your Social Security number — which ends in 8190, right? — and full debit card information so we can stop this unauthorized activity…”

So the caller ID shows the name of your bank. And the caller knows some of your personal details. Does that mean it’s legit?  Read More Here!

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Hang up on spoofed Social Security calls

October 29, 2018
by Lisa Weintraub Schifferle
Attorney, FTC, Division of Consumer & Business Education

If you get a call that looks like it’s from the Social Security Administration (SSA), think twice. Scammers are spoofing SSA’s 1-800 customer service number to try to get your personal information. Spoofing means that scammers can call from anywhere, but they make your caller ID show a different number – often one that looks legit. Here are few things you should know about these so-called SSA calls.
Read More Here!

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Rental listing scams after a hurricane

October 26, 2018
by Colleen Tressler
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

If you, or someone you know, were displaced after Hurricane Florence or Michael, finding a new place to live is a priority. But before you pay any money, be cautious of rental listing scams. Scammers often advertise rentals that don’t exist to trick people into sending money before they find out the truth.

Some scammers hijack a real rental or real estate listing by changing the email address or other contact information, and placing the modified ad on another site. The altered ad may even use the name of the person who posted the original ad. In other cases, scammers have hijacked the email accounts of property owners on reputable rental websites. Other rip-off artists make up listings for places that aren’t for rent or don’t exist.

Here are some signs you may be dealing with a scam:  Read More Here!

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Read More Here!

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Scammers demand gift cards

October 16, 2018

Gift cards and reload cards are the #1 payment method for imposter scams. More scammers are demanding payment with a gift card. The percentage of consumers who told the FTC they paid a scammer with a gift card has increased 270% since 2015. Reports to the FTC say scammers are telling people to buy gift cards at Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS and other retail shops. 42% of people who paid a scammer with a gift card used iTunes or Google Play. Federal Trade Commission. ftc.gov/complaint. ftc.gov/giftcards

Gift cards are for gifts, not for payments…  Read More Here!

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Charity scams follow hurricane’s wake

October 10, 2018
by Colleen Tressler
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

As Hurricane Michael barrels its way toward Florida’s Gulf Coast, scammers continue to con people who want to help those affected by past hurricanes. Case in point: The FTC and its state and local partners are getting reports about sham charities following Hurricane Florence’s devastating impact on North and South Carolina.

In recent weeks, a slew of new websites related to Hurricane Florence have popped up… Read More Here!

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*The preceding information is from the US Federal Trade Commission and has been re-posted here with the permission of the FTC for your convenience.

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