There are several reasons why scammers target seniors. The most common reason is that thieves think they have money, regardless of whether this is true. Seniors can be more trustworthy of strangers, which may be because of physical or cognitive decline, which prevents them from making good decisions. Also, some scammers are very good at appearing professional and easily deceive the person. The other approach is to become threatening, which scares the person into doing something they may not have done under non-threatening circumstances.
How are seniors targeted?
Scammers hit it all – phone, email, text, and mail. They have three approaches.
They approach seniors as a reliable company they might use regularly and tell them something is wrong with their account. Click this link or call this number to fix the problem. After that, they request the person’s username, password, date of birth, social security number, credit card number, or bank account number, and off they go.
They pull on the senior’s heartstrings and tell them some compelling story or tell them they are the person’s grandchild, then proceed to ask for money and where to send it. They might ask the person to get gift cards, then request the gift card information.
The third approach is more threatening. These scammers claim they represent a government agency (Social Security Administration, IRS, etc.) or legal firm. The people claim they need compensation right away, or they will freeze a person’s account, harm a loved one or bring legal action that will cost the person thousands of dollars.
How to avoid scammers?
Be proactive with seniors to help them recognize scams. Scammers are creative. They can appear honest and professional, but you will see they are not sincere when you look closer. Everyone receives scam emails. Look at the return email address because many scam emails have funky email addresses not from the company they claim to be from. Remember that government agencies will not call for money. They send letters. Be wary of mail scams since it is often in small print that they are not a government agency. Be wary of text that asks you to click a link. The most important thing is if it seems too good to be true (winning a lottery you never entered), it probably is.