5 Common Senior Scams and How to Educate Your Residents to Avoid Them
Every year, millions of seniors are targeted in some sort of scam or identity theft attempt. Fraudsters go after older adults because they expect them to be less familiar with technology and have retirement money to spare.
Seniors are more vulnerable to these scams when they’re caught off guard. In a senior living community, you have communication tools at your disposal to ensure all residents are prepared to recognize and report an elder fraud attempt.
Here are five common scams your senior living residents should be aware of and how you can educate them to avoid losses.
Senior Scam #1: Grandchild Impersonation
One of the most prevalent senior scams involves young people posing as grandchildren on the phone. Typically, they’ll say they’re in an emergency and need to make an urgent payment for college, rent, or their car loan.
How to avoid: Remind residents to always ask for identity confirmation details when they receive financial requests from family members via phone or email, such as another family member’s name.
Senior Scam #2: Medicare Identity Theft
How to avoid: Make Medicare fraud information publicly accessible on your community channels. Inform residents that Medicare will never:
- Contact them for their Medicare Number or personal information without advance permission
- Call them to sell something
- Promise rewards or services if they provide your Medicare Number
In addition, the COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge for Medicare members. That means residents should be suspicious if they receive any offers to:
- Pay to put their name on a list to get the vaccine
- Pay to get early access to a vaccine
- Get a vaccine appointment in exchange for personal information
Senior Scam #3: Fake Lottery or Sweepstakes
Sometimes fraudsters will tell seniors over phone or email that they’ve won a lottery and sweepstakes, but they’ll have to claim their prize for a fee, sometimes upwards of $1,000.
How to avoid: Tell residents to be skeptical of any financial reward offered online for a giveaway they don’t remember entering.
Senior Scam #4: Predatory Romantic Partner
Fraudsters posing as romantic interests online via social media or email can take an emotional toll on lonely seniors looking for companionship. In fact, romance scams resulted in the biggest financial losses last year for people over 60.
The grooming campaign usually goes something like this: an older adult meets someone on a social media site or dating app, and they chat for weeks or months online without meeting in person. The romantic interest may say they’re out of the state or country and can’t meet, which is perfectly reasonable during the pandemic. Then the person will ask for financial help, and they’ll keep asking until the victim realizes they’re being swindled.
How to avoid: Encourage residents who engage in online dating to set up video calls with partners to screen for false identities and to never offer financial help to someone they haven’t met in real life.
Senior Scam #5: Tech Support
In a senior living community with digital communication systems, many residents likely have computers, smartphones, or tablets. That makes them vulnerable to fraudulent tech support solicitations.
Scammers will often pretend to be associated with Microsoft, Apple, or a security company and claim to have detected a threat on the senior’s device. They may ask for remote access to the device or personal login information to address the threat.
How to avoid: Make sure residents know how to spot fraudulent tech support attempts. Here are some signs of a scam:
- A phone call from a tech company like Microsoft or Apple (these companies will never initiate communications with a user)
- The message directs you to immediately click a link, make a phone call, or make a payment
- The message contains poor grammar and misspelled words
- The message appears as a pop-up on your computer
Finally, tell your residents to report tech support scams to your community’s IT department, as these scams are the most likely to target multiple members of the community.
Teach Residents How to Avoid Elder Fraud with a Community Engagement Platform
It’s a good idea to provide education materials about scams to your residents that they can refer to when they’re not sure if something’s fishy.
Caremerge’s Community Engagement platform can easily house…
- A scam detection checklist
- Trusted, community-approved content about online safety
- Staff contact info
Sign up for a demo to learn more about how Caremerge can help keep your community safe from scammers.