12 (Reemerging) Scams That Are Robbing Boomers Blind

Whether you’re home or traveling, scams targeting older adults are on the rise, exploiting their trust and unfamiliarity with digital technology. An FBI report claims that scammers took more than $3.4 billion from senior citizens last year. (source) Many boomers face losing their savings to cunning scammers, leaving them feeling vulnerable and betrayed. By learning about the 12 most common scams, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from these deceitful tactics.

1. The Grandparent Scam

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Scammers call pretending to be a grandchild in trouble. They claim the grandchild has been in an accident or arrested and needs money urgently. By using personal details from social media, they make the story believable. Boomers, wanting to help their loved ones, often fall for this trick and send money quickly. An example of this scam involved scammers using ride-sharing services to pick up cash.

2. Government Imposter Scams

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Fraudsters pose as officials from agencies like the IRS or Social Security. If the money is not paid right away, they threaten to sue. Many times, caller ID spoofing is used in these scams to appear genuine, preying on people’s faith in government agencies. The urgency and official tone make these scams convincing, leading many boomers to comply out of fear. For instance, scammers might claim to be from the IRS and demand immediate payment for back taxes.

3. False Investment Scams

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Criminals offer high-return investments to boomers, promising quick and risk-free profits. These scams often come as unsolicited calls or emails from so-called financial advisors. The lure of easy money and the pressure to act fast make boomers fall for these traps, leading to significant financial losses. An example is the Ponzi scheme, where scammers use money from new investors to pay earlier investors, creating an illusion of profitability.

4. Tech Support Scams

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Scammers pretend to be from reputable tech companies like Microsoft or Apple. They claim there’s a problem with the computer and offer to fix it remotely. By gaining remote access, they steal personal information or install malware. Boomers, unfamiliar with tech, often believe these fake warnings and unknowingly grant access. One common scam involves scammers convincing victims to download malware disguised as helpful software.

5. Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams

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Fraudsters contact boomers, claiming they’ve won a huge prize or lottery they never entered. They are asked to pay upfront fees or taxes to claim the winnings. The excitement of winning blinds them to the scam, leading them to pay the fees and provide banking information, resulting in a financial loss instead of a prize. A typical scam involves an email stating, “You’ve won $1 million! Pay the processing fee to claim your prize.”

6. Online Shopping Scams

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Fake websites offer deals on popular items at unbelievably low prices. Looking for bargains, Boomers enter their payment details without realizing the site is fraudulent. They either receive counterfeit products or nothing at all. These scams take advantage of the increase in online shopping and buyers’ trust. For instance, scammers set up fake websites selling popular items like electronics at steep discounts.

7. Romance Scams

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Scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and social media, targeting lonely seniors. After establishing an emotional bond, they frequently seek for money for fictitious situations. Boomers, seeking companionship, can be easily manipulated and end up sending significant amounts of money to these fraudsters. Many victims are pressured into fraudulent investments or asked to cover fake medical expenses.

8. Medicare Scams

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Fraudsters pose as Medicare representatives, asking for personal information to “update” records. A fake medical service or equipment may also be offered by them. By deceiving seniors into disclosing sensitive information that could be exploited for identity theft or fraudulent charges, these scams take advantage of the reliance on Medicare. For example, scammers might call and say, “We need your Medicare number to send you a new card.”

9. Funeral and Cemetery Scams

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Scammers exploit grieving families by reading obituaries and contacting them, claiming the deceased had unpaid debts. They may also offer funeral services at inflated prices or unnecessary add-ons. Family emotional susceptibility is exploited by these con artists. They put people under duress to pay fictitious bills or outrageous prices for services that are frequently insufficient or of poor quality. An example is when scammers demand payment at funerals for supposed debts.

10. Charity Scams

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Fraudsters pose as representatives of charitable organizations, particularly after natural disasters or during holiday seasons. They make phone calls, send emails, or create fake websites to solicit donations. Boomers, eager to help those in need, often don’t verify the legitimacy of these charities. Rather than the designated cause, the money they wind up donating goes directly to the scammers. For instance, scammers might set up fake charity websites after a natural disaster.

11. Anti-Aging Products Scams

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Scammers market and sell fake anti-aging products online, promising miraculous results like reversing wrinkles or restoring youthful appearance. These products are often ineffective and sometimes harmful. Boomers, desiring to maintain a youthful look, purchase these products and not only waste their money but also risk their health by using unregulated substances. An example is the sale of bogus creams that promise to erase wrinkles overnight.

12. Home Repair Scams

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Fraudsters target boomers by offering home repair services at seemingly low prices. They often approach door-to-door, claiming they noticed something that needs fixing. After taking an upfront payment, they either do shoddy work or disappear without completing the job. Seniors, who may not be able to verify the legitimacy of these contractors, end up losing their money and still need the repairs. For example, scammers might promise to fix roofs at half the usual cost but disappear after being paid upfront. Conclusion In today’s digital age, staying informed and vigilant is essential to protect against scams targeting boomers. Awareness of these deceptive tactics can make a significant difference. Encouraging open communication with older adults about potential scams is crucial. Verifying the legitimacy of unsolicited offers can safeguard their finances. Utilizing tools like credit monitoring helps protect personal information. We can protect our loved ones from fraud by taking these proactive steps. In an increasingly complex world, this helps maintain their peace of mind. Staying educated is the key to preventing these scams from succeeding.