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Top 3 Senior Scams – What You Need to Know and How to Avoid Them

Top 3 Senior Scams – What You Need to Know and How to Avoid Them

Seniors are among the most vulnerable to scammers, according to the FBI. Con-artists often seek to exploit seniors with large nest eggs. They commonly prey on seniors’ trusting nature, and, sometimes, lack of familiarity with technology. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for seniors to stay informed of the most common scams and learn how to prevent becoming victims of them.

1. Technical Support Scam

“We know there’s over three million customers this year alone that have had impact based on fraudulent scams,” said Kristen Kliphouse, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft. Kliphouse was referencing the three million Microsoft customers that had been, in some way, shape or form, duped by scammers posing as trained professionals authorized to provide services on the behalf of Microsoft.

“We fight cybercriminals who target some of the most vulnerable,” Courtney Gregoire, Senior Attorney at Microsoft, added. “We’re catching some of them that make mistakes, but, in fact, they’re getting savvier and savvier as they go. They’ve learned what makes a customer trust them.”

Tech support scams are nothing new. However, a new breed of scammer has emerged: the “technician” claiming to represent a large and trusted corporation, such as Microsoft. As you can see from the above quotes, this new breed of cyber scammer is not to be taken lightly. They have, as Gregoire indicated, taken the time to learn how to guilt, persuade, cajole and coerce the elderly into agreeing to allow access to personal electronic devices, most commonly a desktop computer, and into providing payment for fabricated or manufactured issues, most commonly a dubious “virus.”

How to Prevent Falling Victim to It
●Do not purchase any software or services over the phone.

● Be wary of abnormal forms of payment. If someone asks you to wire money, for example, this is a red-flag. A good rule of thumb is that if they do not accept credit cards, it is most likely a scam.

● If they attempt to scare you into their service, hang up.

● Never allow access to your computer unless you are absolutely sure they are a verified provider of the services they are purporting to provide.

2. Healthcare Scam

Because aging takes its toll on our health, we become more concerned with healthcare and our options regarding our coverage. We may be easily scared into buying nonexistent plans or phony prescription coverage. As we age, we can naturally expect to take more trips to the doctor’s office. We may become inured to doling out our health information, causing us to give out such information more freely. Unfortunately, there are fraudsters waiting to profit from this, and they may further frustration by confusing, obfuscating and bombarding victims with false offers and choices.

Frauds most frequently will pose as health care representatives in order to gain access to a senior’s sensitive information, such as his or her social security number, driver’s license number, address and contact information. But merely protecting your SSN may not prevent a scammer from profiting from you, either. As mentioned earlier, healthcare scams rely on victims being careless with the information on their Medicare cards, despite the fact it should be safeguarded as closely as any other personal identifying information.

How to Prevent Falling Victim to It
● Monitor your Medicare plan. Make sure there aren’t any unauthorized charges. Frauds can successfully bill your insurance if they have your personal information.

● Make sure you understand the terms of a healthcare plan before signing up.

●Be wary of supplemental insurance policies. Research them fully and check that they have been approved by the federal government.

● Do not give out any personal or medical information unless you are absolutely sure of who you are talking to.

3. Grandchild Scam

This is perhaps one of the simplest but most effective scams, due to its ruthlessness. In this scam, a con-artist pulls at the heart strings of an elderly person and attempts to exploit a weakened memory by pretending to be a grandchild or great-grandchild.

Typically, the scammer will call a senior’s home, and claim to be a grandchild without giving away any personal identifiers. The grandparent then attempts to identify the child, and the scammer gladly assumes the mistaken identity. Often the victim will feel that something is off, but is too ashamed to admit that they are unsure of their grandchild’s identity.

They guilt the grandparent by providing them with a bogus story or emergency. The scammer, now assuming the grandchild’s identity, will demand money or credit card information.

How to Prevent Falling Victim to It
●If you’re feeling confused, end the conversation.

●Don’t feel ashamed to ask to meet before giving your grandchild money. It’s best to be sure what’s happening, even if you feel embarrassed.

●Refrain from giving your credit card information over the phone, even when someone is claiming to be a relative.

All scammers prey on misinformation. While no one is immune to the clever fear-inducing scare tactics of experienced con-artists, staying informed is the best way to protect yourself from scammers. Seniors, now more than ever, should stay as informed as they possibly can.