BE ALERT TO STOP SCAMS TARGETING OLDER ADULTS

Scams targeting older adults take many forms, from callers posing as grandchildren in need of financial assistance to emails directing people to fake bank websites that steal personal information. The techniques evolve over time, but the outcome is always the same: many seniors end up losing money.

The isolation many older adults are experiencing during the pandemic has exacerbated the problem. While technology helps seniors stay connected with loved ones, it also opens new doors for senior mobile phone scams and other fraud. 

Common schemes targeting this demographic include:

Telemarketing/Internet Fraud: The crimes in this category are legendary, like the case of the Nigerian letter fraud operation in which fictitious government officials offer to share an opportunity to transfer millions of dollars out of the country—all you need to do is provide bank account information to receive the funds! Advance-fee schemes also fall into this category, characterized by a victim offered an “opportunity” to pay money in advance for something they never actually receive.

General Investment Schemes: Seniors are often targeted for too-good-to-be-true ploys because they’re dealing with fixed-income situations, and are seeing the cost of living steadily outstripping their ability to cope. As a result, “get rich” schemes resonate with many unsuspecting people.

Grandparent scams: This is an area that tugs in the emotions of seniors. The fraudster has a call placed to the grandparent describing some sort of emergency—frequently a need for bail money—that needs to be resolved by providing bank information or transferring money.

Fraudulent charity schemes: Fraudsters often spring up in the wake of disaster situations, like hurricanes, earthquakes, or any form of natural disaster. They often take the form of a telephone or email solicitation, appealing to the natural instinct in many—especially seniors—to want to help others.

There are ways to safeguard assets and to prevent such scams from occurring in the first place. While these may not prevent 100% of fraud attempts—after all, the scams get more sophisticated all the time—they can certainly help put important protections in place.

How to stop scam calls: Add landline or mobile phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry. You can also block unwanted calls on the mobile phones themselves: Apple devices running iOS 13 or later can silence unknown callers, as can Android devices running Android 6.0 and newer. There are also a number of third-party apps designed to block robocalls available on the Apple App and Google Play stores.

Reduce electronic and physical junk mail: If you receive something that looks like junk mail in your inbox, it’s best to mark it as spam so your email service’s spam filter recognizes it next time.Even if an email looks legitimate, it’s always best to check the email address it came from before opening it or clicking on anything in the message. Emails sent from scammers usually contain various numbers or symbols rather than the simple email address of a legitimate institution. The same goes for web addresses, which also can be spoofed. You can google the name of the bank website where you’ve supposedly been directed to see if it matches.

People also can request not to receive certain kinds of U.S. mail, as well as unwanted commercial email, through a service called DMAchoice. In addition, there is also a service available to let you opt out of receiving prescreened credit and insurance offers.

Monitor your money: Seniors can safeguard their money by setting up direct deposits for income from Social Security, pensions and dividends so that physical checks aren’t sent to their home.

People should also keep an eye on spending activity by asking their bank and credit-card companies to send them—or trusted loved ones—alerts of suspicious activity or charges that exceed a certain amount. Most banks allow customers to create custom alerts.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has been the victim of fraud, you can call the National Elder Fraud hotline at (833) 372-8311, and report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by visiting the agency’s website .

11 Thoughts on "BE ALERT TO STOP SCAMS TARGETING OLDER ADULTS"

  1. Karen Wolkowski says

    Lost my cell phone. Don’t have a phone available to call you. Borrowed a phone. Was on hold for 20 minutes then got cut off.
    What do I need to do?

    reply to Karen

  2. Ginger says

    terrible customer service

    reply to Ginger

    • Hi Ginger, thank you for your post. I’m sorry to hear about your negative experience with our customer service agents. We’d be happy to discuss this experience with you further though if you’d like to give us a call at 800-686-4460 or chat with one of our agents here for further assistance.

      reply to Jacob

  3. Faye van Damme says

    I recently had my phone number abducted and my phone was deactivated. I had no house phone so I got on line with CC and had a chat with a lady and she directed me to get a new sim card at Bimart which is now partnered with Target. They instantly reactivated my phone but I lost several numbers including my daughter’s home phone number. They have given me credit for the new sim card and I bought another phone cheap and so have a backup by adding an additional line for $15.00 a month. They also put a fraud notice on my account so I was protected. I was advised to change passwords on my bank accounts and emails, call all three credit bureaus and freeze my accounts. I have done all that and they don’t know how it happened but were very helpful to me. They said someone bought a phone but couldn’t see who or where it was purchased. That could happen on line I am sure. Then the person apparently picked my phone and had it put on that new phone. God help us. We are so vunerable with electronics even with all the protection we put on things.

    reply to Faye

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for taking the time to post, Faye. I’m sorry to hear that you had to experience that, but I’m glad that our agents were able to assist you with getting your service back and providing recommendations for your personal security. It’s definitely a difficult situation to be in, and our team does all they can to get situations like these resolved as quickly as possible.

      In addition to what you’ve listed, a security passcode can also be added to your Consumer Cellular account that would prevent anyone without that passcode from accessing it when contacting our customer service team. If that’s not something you’ve already added, I definitely recommend it.

      reply to Nicole

  4. M A says

    Just a note: Nicole’s advice to add a security passcode to your account at Consumer Cell is great advice, just a little late for me. I was hacked, my phone number switched to the hacker’s phone, and fraudulent money transfers were made. I also have now added that to my account, and I highly recommend it. I was not aware of that need before. The world is just full of evil players.

    On a good note: The Fraud departments of my banks and VENMO are working on getting me made whole. Please pray for me.

    reply to M

  5. Craig Hayes says

    So I am a new customer and I was with Sprint, Since they got bought out I was offered 2 Cheaper than what I have phones by the new carrier.
    Needless to say I was POed. But I do love the phone I have(Samsung Galaxy A50). So I paid the remaining balance and had it Unlocked. I tried to get service with another carrier and couldn’t get anything done with foreign tech support.
    So this is where I call Consumer Cellular and a US Based Tech Support Help. Was able to get a Sim Card shipped to me and set everything up, Account and all. Then I get my Sim Card on Saturday and called tech support on my roommates phone and with in minutes my phone number was ported to CC. But I did have to setup my own APN, But yeah, Great Customer Service. Glad I made the move.

    reply to Craig

  6. Betty Martin-Ewing says

    I am so tired of getting SPAM texts. What can I do to stop them. I get 3-5 daily. I never had this issues with Verizon and AT&T. Help

    reply to Betty

    • Hi Betty, thank you for your post. We definitely understand how frustrating those spam texts are. Because we are a reseller, we don’t have a way to block those from coming in ourselves, however, we do suggest blocking the numbers as they come in. We also would recommend downloading an app to help with filtering those as well.

      reply to Jacob

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