If you’ve ever believed a scam, you’re not alone. Scammers are smart in their approach. They often mimic real government agencies or corporations, and they tend to play on fear to keep you from thinking straight. It’s not your fault if you believe them, but it’s good to be aware of them. Awareness helps you be ready, so you’re less likely to fall for the next scam.
We have the inside scoop on the latest senior scams going around to help you be aware of what is going on this fall. Also, know that we’re here to support you and your family at Daystar Retirement Village in Seattle, WA. If you or your parents are having a harder time with daily life, our team is here to take over many of your responsibilities. We use our expertise to take certain things off your plate, allowing you to focus on what matters to you, like quality family time.
Scams Targeting Seniors in 2021
We know that seniors have many concerns about aging. One of them involves running out of money. Avoiding senior scams is one of the ways to ensure your finances stay intact. Here are some of the biggest scams you’re likely to face at the moment. We also included tips on how to avoid these types of scams:
- Covid-19 Vaccination Card Scams: You post a picture of your vaccination card online, and scammers gain personal information they can use to access your identity and financial accounts. If you choose to, let others know about your vaccination without sharing a photo of the card.
- Zoom Scams: You receive an email or other message with a Zoom link asking you to fix a problem or attend a meeting. Avoid unsolicited links for meetings you didn’t sign up for. If you wonder about an account problem, sign into your Zoom account through the website rather than clicking on the link.
- Social Security Administration (SSA) or Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Impostor Scam: Scammers call and say there is a problem with your Social Security number, or it was used in illegal activity. They may ask you to confirm the number, threaten you and/or ask for money to solve the problem. An alternative is a scammer saying you owe the IRS money and threatening you. Avoid answering phone calls from unknown numbers and be aware that the SSA and IRS will not threaten you or suspend your Social Security number.
- Tech Support Scam: Scammers use pop-up internet messages or phone calls to say you have a computer problem, such as a virus. They ask for remote access to the computer and ask for money to solve the “problem.” Don’t trust anyone who contacts you about a computer problem. Close any suspicious pop-ups and run a trusted anti-virus program. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask a family member or friend, or find a legitimate computer service on your own.
- Romance Scams: Scammers reach out through online dating sites and online groups, and at some point, ask you to send money. Assume that it’s a scam if anyone you haven't met in real life asks for money. Also, avoid sharing information or pictures that could be used against you.
- Grandma Scams: A scammer pretends to be a relative, generally a grandchild, saying they are in trouble, perhaps even via email and usually they say they are in need of immediate money. Be aware that this is a common scam, so remain skeptical. Keep in mind that this is a scam if the person is asking for payment in the form of gift cards and reach out to relatives to see if there really is a family problem or not.
- Common Scams: Read our article on other tips on avoiding common senior scams.
How to Avoid Scams
While you can follow our tips for each specific type of scam above, we also put together these tips to guide you in general:
- Avoid answering phone calls from numbers you do not recognize. You will receive a voicemail if the call is important. Also, be wary of unsolicited mailings or knocks on your door about services.
- Avoid clicking on links you receive through emails, text messages, or pop-ups. Instead, go directly to a legitimate website or call up the person who sent you the email if they are a close friend or family member to confirm it is something they truly sent.
- Avoid sending payments or gift cards to people who contact you. Why do scammers want gift cards? This is a form of payment that can’t easily be traced.
- Avoid giving out your personal information.
- Assume you’re dealing with a scam if you’re asked to pay any kind of fee to receive money you have supposedly won.
- Stay on top of current scams so you know when a situation is suspicious. Stop communicating with anyone you think may be scamming you.
- Avoid immediate action, always pause and wait and ask someone of the legitimacy. Anyone pressing for money or immediate action as someone you don’t know should be treated with caution and suspicion.
- When in doubt, confirm the situation. For example, if you receive a call from someone saying they’re from the IRS, hang up and call the legitimate IRS number to see if there is a real problem.
Consider a Senior Retirement Community
We hope this information on senior fraud and scams helps you to avoid them. We also have information on senior care financial planning to help you with this stage of life.
Sometimes it becomes harder to identify scams because of dementia, aging, or a lack of knowledge about the modern world. If you or your parent is having a harder time managing everyday life, retirement housing could be a good solution. At Daystar Retirement Village, we have different levels of care to suit each person’s needs, from 55+ apartments to independent or assisted living. Each option comes with amenities that could improve your life, as well as support from our expert staff and other residents. Our community has systems to prevent internal senior fraud and helps our residents be aware of external scams.
If you’re ever going through a hard time, like dealing with a scam, our caring staff is here to help bear the burden and get your life back in order. Also, we’re always ready to ease your concerns and help your transition into senior living. Whether you're considering senior housing for yourself or your loved one, reach out and contact us to start the discussion.