When most baby boomers were growing up, people who called them were likely friends and family. That has radically changed with robo calls and phone scams.
One of the most common ways scams against older people occur is via phone. Fraudsters target the older generation knowing that it is often difficult for these individuals to say "no" or just hang up the phone. They may also be more easily manipulated due to cognitive issues, grief or simply because they are kind, good-natured and trusting people. Examples of phone fraud include:
Bogus products or services
Fraudsters use high pressure sales to trick victims into purchasing vitamins, anti-aging products, health services or even more expensive things like vacations. Once the money is sent, the "purchased" items never arrive.
Sweepstakes and lottery scams
A victim is told they have won a sweepstake or lottery but must pay “fees and taxes” to obtain their winnings. A check may even be sent to the victim. A few days after being deposited, the check bounces. During that lag time, the criminals will quickly collect money for the “fees and taxes” on the prize-which they pocket.
An imposter claims to be in trouble and requests money for rent, bail or medical expenses. Often the payment is requested through wire, Western Union or gift cards. To sound more realistic, the scammer may use personal information found online, such as a child or grandchild’s actual name.
The caller claims to represent a charity seeking money to pay for disaster recovery or aid to victims. In reality, the "charity" doesn't exist, and the money goes into the criminal’s account.
Ways to protect yourself
Here are some tips for protecting yourself against phone scams:
- Never feel pressured to make a quick decision.
- Before sending money, call the organization or person at a number you’ve looked up to verify they're who they claim to be.
- Never give out any type of account number, card number, social security number or bank information to someone who called you. Hang up and call them back at a number you know is legitimate.
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