6 Tips to Not Fall Victim to Senior Scam Calls

Scam calls are an unfortunate reality in today’s world, and older adults are often targeted by these deceitful individuals. It’s been shown that older adults who are targeted by scammers are four times more likely than younger adults to lose $1,500 or more. The toughest thing about this is that many scammers seem convincing and kind, so it’s easy to get caught up in something you think is legitimate.

With all of this in mind, it’s crucial to understand the nature of these calls, why older adults are a prime target, and how to protect yourself. 

Read on as we guide you through recognizing and avoiding these scams so you can protect your identity and your investments. 

What are senior scam calls?

Senior scam calls are deceptive phone calls targeted at older adults with the intent to defraud them (a.k.a steal their money) or use their personal information to obtain personal data. These calls often appear legitimate, using persuasive tactics to trick older adults into divulging sensitive details or transferring money.

Why do scam callers target seniors?

Scammers often target older adults because they may be more trusting, might not be as familiar with technology or modern scamming tactics, and often have retirement savings, making them lucrative targets. 

Additionally, cognitive impairments like dementia can make seniors more vulnerable to these scams.

How do scam callers target seniors?

Scammers use various tactics to target older adults. For example, they may pose as representatives from legitimate organizations like government agencies, banks, or healthcare providers. Often, they create a sense of urgency or fear, pressuring the older adult on the other end of the phone to act quickly without verifying the caller’s identity.

What are some common types of scam calls targeted at seniors?

Some typical call scam tactics and call types targeting older adults include:

  • IRS scam: Callers claim to be from the IRS, demanding immediate payment for alleged back taxes. Many times they will make this seem more legitimate by saying: “This call is being recorded by the IRS.” Tricky tricky. 
  • Grandparent scam: The caller pretends to be a grandchild in distress, urgently requesting money. This one is particularly challenging for older adults to navigate because a lot of information about family ties can be found with a simple social media search. You can help avoid becoming a target for this kind of scam by keeping all social media profiles private, but this won’t necessarily fix the issue. It’s easier than ever for bad actors to find information about your family by searching online. Add in the ability to mimic voices and create fake images with AI and these types of scams become even more realistic in nature. 
  • Lottery or sweepstakes scams: Older adults are often told they’ve won a prize but need to pay a fee or provide bank account details to claim it.
  • Healthcare scam: Callers offer free medical devices or services to obtain personal health information. 
  • Police officer scam: Sometimes callers will say they’re working on an investigation for something that directly involves the caller or they’ll claim the caller is in legal trouble, asking them to provide their personal information as a part of the “case”.

6 tips to not fall victim to senior scam calls

So, with all of this in mind, we want to share a few tips to help you avoid being scammed by one of these crafty callers. Our six tips are:

Tip #1: Be skeptical of unsolicited calls

When you receive a phone call from an unknown number, particularly one that’s unsolicited, it’s crucial to be wary. Scammers often disguise themselves as legitimate organizations or authorities. They may sound convincing, but remember, real organizations usually send official communication through mail or email. If you receive a call asking for personal information or demanding immediate payment, it’s a red flag. Stay cautious and always question the authenticity of unsolicited calls.

Tip #2: Don’t share personal information

One of the golden rules in safeguarding against scam calls is to never disclose personal or financial information over the phone. This includes details like your Social Security number, bank account details, or credit card numbers. Even if the caller seems to have some of your information already, do not confirm or reveal anything further. Legitimate organizations will never ask for sensitive details in an unsolicited call.

Tip #3: Hang up and call the company back

If the caller claims to represent a reputable organization, like your bank or a government agency, don’t take their word for it. Hang up and call back using a verified number from the official website or your documents. By doing so, you can ensure you’re speaking to a legitimate representative. This step helps to eliminate the risk of divulging sensitive information to a scammer.

Tip #4: Be aware of scare tactics

Scammers often rely on creating a sense of urgency or fear. They may claim that you’re in legal trouble, that your accounts are compromised, or that immediate action is required to avoid serious consequences. Recognize these as scare tactics. Stay calm and do not make any hasty decisions under pressure. Legitimate entities do not force immediate action over the phone.

Tip #5: Use call blocking

cell phone

For those with cell phones, utilizing call-blocking services can be a useful tool. Many phone companies offer these services, and there are various apps available that can help filter out potential scam calls. These tools can significantly reduce the number of unwanted calls you receive, lessening your chances of encountering a scammer.

You can also add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry to remove your number from telemarketing lists.  

Tip #6: Report phone scams to the authorities

If you receive a scam call, report it to the authorities, like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). By doing so, you not only protect yourself but also help prevent others from falling victim to similar scams. Reporting these calls can aid in tracking down the scammers and potentially stopping them from harming others.

You’re prepared for your next scam call attempt

Awareness and vigilance are key to protecting yourself against senior scam calls. By being skeptical, safeguarding your personal information, and staying informed about common scam tactics, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to these fraudulent schemes. Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when dealing with unexpected or suspicious calls.

For more helpful tips on topics like this, check out our blog