7 Scams Retirees Should Watch Out For

What Scams Retirees Should Watch Out For

When you come from a large family, you expect to assist your older relatives from time to time. However, I never anticipated how often this meant having to secure their accounts and keep them safe from scammers. It seems like every day, there is a new one to add to the list. For those who are in a similar situation and want to stay ahead of the game, here are 7 common scams retirees should watch out for.

7 Common Scams Retirees Should Watch Out For

In the digital age, people have to stay alert for new types of con artists. Nowadays, people have access to more personal information than ever, making it even easier to reach their victims. However, falling prey to these scams could cost you your retirement.

1. Phishing Scams

One of the most common scams that not only retirees, but people in general, should watch out for are phishing scams. These start with an email or text message that contains malware that will allow them to capture your banking or personal information.

When you click on the link or open the attachment from these emails, it grants hackers access to your logins, passwords, account numbers, Social Security number, or other sensitive data. After they obtain this information, it can be very difficult and time-consuming to contain the damage and resecure your accounts.

2. Social Security Scams

Social Security scams have been one of the most popular approaches people use to take advantage of the elderly. It usually begins with a call to request or verify information about Social Security benefits.

They may even pose as an official agency that is alerting them of fraudulent activity to create more urgency and make people more willing to share information. Once they receive payment for their services or access to your accounts, they use it to steal identities, obtain funding, and other selfish purposes.

3. Tax Scams

As embarrassed as I am to admit this, I nearly fell victim to a tax scam a few years ago. Someone called claiming to be from the IRS and told me that I had an overdue payment. As a law-abiding citizen, this put me on high alert. Then, they advised me to pay it as soon as possible to avoid penalties. The situation had me in such a panic that I almost divulged my personal information over the phone.

However, I remembered caution and scheduled a time for them to call back. In the meantime, I logged into my IRS account and checked with my CPA to see if everything was on schedule. Luckily, I figured out what was going on before I did anything stupid. Prior to this, I had no idea this was even a scam until it happened to me. Sadly, it remains one of the most common scams retirees should watch out for, especially during tax season.

4. Healthcare Scams

Healthcare scams are another tactic that costs elderly people hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. Similar to other grifts, someone calls pretending to be a representative from Medicare or their insurance company. They first try to verify your information or may promise a quote or better rates once you provide the necessary information. They may even try to put you at ease by saying they already spoke to one of your children or that they are returning your call about an inquiry you made.

However, government agencies will not reach out to you and ask for your information. So if someone reaches out and requests account numbers, contact details, or other personal information, it is probably a scammer looking to line their pockets.

5. Covid-19 Tests Scam

On a similar note, there is also a new scam that plays off the fears many people have had about Covid-19. To make it even worse, they design their con around real offers to send people free at-home tests. They will usually claim that they work with the Department of Health or Medicare and want to send you free medical supplies.

But once again, they will not contact you by phone for your information. When you get one of these calls, their ultimate goal is to gain access to your Medicare account which they can use to make false insurance claims. This can be a costly mistake that could take months or years to correct.

6. The Grandparent Scam

The grandparent scam is a classic one that many fraudsters have used to play off people’s emotions. This one starts off with a phone call from someone pretending to be a grandchild in need. They may ask for money because they are in trouble and need help, such as paying for transportation or bailing them out of jail. These scammers also use trick questions like…”Grandma, don’t you know who this is?” or “I can’t believe you don’t recognize your grandchild’s voice…” to make you reveal information about your family.

Like all the other scams here, it creates a sense of urgency for you to act. But, you should always check with family members before giving financial information or sending money.

7. Lottery Scams

This last scam is another one that many retirees fall into because they hope it’s actually true. It’s hard to turn down an offer when someone calls to tell you that you’ve won the grand prize in a well-known sweepstakes or lottery. This could be anything from cash or gift cards to trips or cars. The scammer will tell you that your prize is ready, but that you need to authorize payment for taxes or delivery fees.

However, once you make the payment, you never receive the prize. This scam is a good reminder that if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

The Best Ways to Avoid Scams

With so many different scams out there, you have to be on constant alert. Here are a few good tips to help prevent you from becoming their next victim.

  • Never give out personal information over the phone.
  • If someone is calling from an agency you have business with, contact the financial institution or organization through established channels to check on your accounts.
  • Remember that government bodies will never call without contacting you by mail first.
  • Never click on links in emails or text messages from people you don’t know.
  • Use code words or other ways to verify that you are talking to someone you know.

Although it can be difficult at first, it becomes easier to protect yourself when you learn how to spot scammers. However, you can also activate services through your bank and credit card companies or pay professionals to monitor your accounts for you. In the digital age, cyber security must be a top priority to keep you and your finances safe.

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