June 23, 2021

How to Protect Yourself from Scams as a Senior

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When it comes to scams, seniors tend to be an easy target because they’re more susceptible to fraudulent schemes

Whether it’s fake sweepstakes, questionable investment returns, and the more recent coronavirus scams, older adults can be more vulnerable to certain crimes.

But don't worry, because it's never too late—or too early!—to educate yourself about these common schemes in order to protect oneself from being scammed. 

How are seniors getting scammed? 

Though Internet and online safety is important, scams can occur by mail, phone, or even in person. 

Locally, a scammer posing as an elderly woman’s teenaged grandson recently phoned her and claimed he was in a traffic accident involving alcohol, that he was in a holding cell and needed $6,000 for his release. The “grandson” referred her to his “lawyer,” who told this woman that if she called the parents, the incident would go on her grandson’s permanent record.  

On the way to the bank, she was in a car accident and delayed by over 30 minutes, so it was too late to get the money. When she called the scammers, they told her to purchase six $1,000 gift cards at a popular chain store.

Fueled by guilt from the scammers and unable to drive because of pain from the accident, she took a cab to the store, but they’d only let her purchase one card for $950. 

When neither her bank card nor a check would work, she returned to the cab and relayed the story to the driver, who told her it was a scam. Immediately, she phoned her son and discovered that her grandson was home the entire time, and followed up with a police report. Read another heartening story of a cab driver helping out his older passenger here

The Importance of Reporting Fraud for Seniors 

Source: NCOA

But, according to the FBI, seniors aren’t as likely to report a fraud because they’re ashamed of being scammed or defrauded, they’re unsure as to whom they report it, or they aren’t even aware they’ve been scammed.  

Luckily, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) offers several ways to protect yourself from scams. And we have some tips for you right here.

How to Protect Yourself from Scams as an Older Adult

  1. It’s important to be an informed consumer and do your research before spending your money. 
  2. Talk with someone you trust before giving an answer to a stranger, especially when you feel pressured. Before doing business with a salesperson, be sure to get their full name and business name, telephone number, and street/mailing address.   
  3. Monitor your bank and credit card statements and credit ratings; check on any unusual or incorrect information.  
  4. Never give your personal information such as your Social Security and Medicare number, or credit card and banking information, over the phone to someone who initiates contact with you. 
  5. Register on donotcall.gov to stop unwanted telemarketers. 
  6. Remember to stay involved in your area by becoming active in your neighborhood block watch. And don’t isolate; social isolation can increase your risk of getting scammed, so stay connected with friends and family you trust. 


What do I do if I think I’ve been scammed? 

If you think you’ve been scammed, it’s important to act quickly.  

NCOA suggests you contact your bank and credit card company and cancel the credit/bank cards that could have been used fraudulently, as well as reset your PIN and passwords.  

You can also call legal services and Adult Protective Services by visiting their website at: https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Index.aspx. Or call them toll-free at 1-800-677-1116 on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. 


There are several steps you can take to prevent elder fraud against yourself or loved ones, and staying connected to your community is one of the best protections against that. 

About the Author: 

Jody Cohen is an independent, licensed and certified Medicare Plans Specialist and Educator who specializes in educating and helping Arizona seniors understand the healthcare options available to them in the Medicare platform.  She offers a complimentary, comprehensive, and thorough benefits and needs analysis, and reviews the most cost-efficient plan to ensure that medical needs are met with a preferred provider network, and prescription costs are kept to a minimum.  Jody also advocates, educates, and protects her clients and provides up-to-date information on related news and current events.  


Jody can be contacted at 602-326-4264 or jodycohen@outlook.com

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