1. The Grandparent Scam
This is certainly one of the most insidious scams out there. A senior gets a call from an unknown number:
“Is that you, Henry?”
“Yes, it’s Henry! Grandma, I’m in trouble.”
The caller then goes on to describe how they’re in Mexico or some other foreign country on a school trip and they’ve been arrested. They explain that they were too embarrassed to call their parents. “Could you wire the money for my bail?” They plead. “Please don’t tell my parents.”
Of course, the caller is only a stranger looking to take advantage of a kind-hearted grandparent. Many of these scams involve wiring money through businesses like Western Union. It’s important to remember that when wiring funds, you must be absolutely certain of the receiver’s identity.
2. The Lottery Scam
Perhaps you’ve heard this one before. A senior receives an official-looking letter in the mail that reads: You’re a Winner! They’re convinced that they’ve won money from a foreign lottery and are asked to pay taxes and fees before they can collect their winnings.
3. The Jury Duty Scam
This scam, like many others, runs on fear. A senior receives a call from the “courthouse.” They’re told that they’ve failed to report to jury duty and there is a warrant out for their arrest. They’re given the choice between paying off the warrant or getting arrested.
4. The Anti-Aging Scam
With a booming beauty industry, there are a lot of anti-aging products on the market. Make sure you do your research before you buy into a fraudulent treatment, such as fake Botox offered at a shopping mall or a totally useless homeopathic remedy.
5. The IRS Scam
This involves getting a phone call from someone claiming to work at the IRS. They tell you that you failed to pay your full taxes and you’ll be fined, audited or even arrested unless you pay what’s owed. Then they ask for a credit card number.
6. The Electricity Scam
This is a common scam in which a senior receives a call from someone claiming to work at the electric company. They tell them their electric bill is three months overdue and their power will be shut off if they don’t receive payment immediately.
7. The Funeral Scam
It’s shameful to think that people can prey on the bereaved, and that’s just what these scammers do. They’ll troll funerals or cemeteries looking for a senior who’s suffered a recent loss. Then they’ll claim the deceased owes them a deal of money and demand repayment of the debt.
8. The Charity Scam
Those red-framed photos of starving African children make a charity look convincing, but the fact is that a lot of people peddling buckets for charity on city streets or trolling for donations online or over the phone are not representing real charities. They’re trying to reach your wallet through your heart. Before you donate, make sure the charity is legitimate.
9. The Investment Scam
Many Americans are nervous about retirement and worried about having enough savings to maintain them through the end of their life. It’s this fear that drives investment schemes. Seniors will be approached with “investment opportunities” that turn out to be unfounded, or part of a pyramid scheme. Often these would-be investors use confusing or intimidating economist language to their advantage, chatting about hedge funds and capital gains.
10. The Health Lab Scam
This scam usually comes in the form of a portable health lab appearing at a health club, fitness center, mall or retirement community. This lab offers fake or unnecessary medical tests and then charges the “patient” and their insurance.
If you believe that yourself or a loved one has been the victim of fraud, report it here. Call the AARP ElderWatch hotline: (800) 222-4444 (option 2).