top of page

What to Know about the Latest Scams Targeting Older Adults

The latest scams targeting older adults can be particularly devastating.

The latest scams targeting older adults can be particularly devastating due to the vulnerability and trust often associated with older age. While the specifics may evolve over time, some of the most common scams we are hearing about in 2024 include the following:

  1. IRS Impersonation Scam: Scammers pretend to be IRS agents, claiming the victim owes back taxes and threatening legal action or arrest if payment isn't made immediately.

  2. Grandparent Scam: Scammers pose as a grandchild in distress, claiming to be in trouble and in need of immediate financial assistance.

  3. Tech Support Scams: Seniors are contacted by someone pretending to be from a tech support company, claiming their computer has a virus and offering to fix it for a fee.

  4. Romance Scams: Scammers build relationships with seniors online, gaining their trust before asking for money under various pretenses.

  5. Lottery or Sweepstakes Scams: Victims are informed they've won a prize but need to pay taxes or fees upfront to claim it.

  6. Medicare or Health Insurance Fraud: Seniors are targeted with offers for fake or unnecessary medical products or services, or their personal information is stolen for fraudulent Medicare billing.

  7. Home Repair Scams: Scammers offer home repair or improvement services at a low cost, then either do a shoddy job or disappear after receiving payment.

  8. Investment Scams: Seniors are persuaded to invest in fake or high-risk schemes promising high returns, often involving bogus real estate, stocks, or commodities.

  9. Utility Scams: Scammers impersonate utility company representatives, threatening to shut off services unless immediate payment is made.

  10. Charity Scams: Fake charities or fundraisers target seniors, asking for donations for causes that don't exist or using a small portion of donations for the stated purpose while pocketing the rest.

  11. Deed Scams: Thieves forge a deed that transfers ownership of a property to them. They file the deed with a county clerk, who records the sale. Then the property is quickly sold to an unsuspecting purchaser.

  12. FedEx Delivery Scams: Fraudulent emails are disguised as FedEx delivery notices that contain hyperlinks or attachments that connect to malware that can infect a computer or mobile device.

  13. "Package at Post Office Warehouse" Scams: Fraudsters send an email or text message indicating that a U.S. Postal Service delivery requires a response. Clicking on the link or the attachment installs malware that criminals use to steal personal information.

The Latest Scams Targeting Older Adults: How They Work

Scammers worm their way in by exploiting older adults' trust, lack of familiarity with technology, and sometimes their isolation. Here's how the scammers work:

  1. Initial Contact: Scammers often initiate contact through phone calls, emails, social media messages, or even door-to-door visits. They may use tactics like urgency, fear, or excitement to grab the senior's attention.

  2. Establish Trust: Once they've made contact, scammers work to establish trust with the senior. They may use various tactics such as pretending to be from a reputable organization, referencing personal information they've gathered online, or exploiting common interests or concerns.

  3. Create a Sense of Urgency: Scammers often create a sense of urgency to pressure seniors into making quick decisions without thinking things through. They may claim there's a limited-time offer, an emergency situation, or a looming threat that requires immediate action.

  4. Request for Information or Money: Once trust is established and urgency is conveyed, scammers typically make their request. This could involve asking for personal information like Social Security numbers, bank account details, or passwords, or requesting money through wire transfers, prepaid cards, or gift cards.

  5. Manipulate Emotions: Many scams target seniors' emotions, whether it's by playing on their desire to help others, their fear of legal repercussions, their excitement about winning a prize, or their longing for companionship. Scammers are skilled at manipulating these emotions to their advantage.

  6. Concealment and Obfuscation: Scammers often take steps to conceal their true identity and intentions. They may use fake caller IDs, spoofed email addresses, or sophisticated websites to make their scams appear legitimate. They may also use complex language or technical jargon to confuse or intimidate their targets.

  7. Prevention of Communication with Trusted Individuals: In some cases, scammers may try to prevent seniors from seeking advice or assistance from trusted friends, family members, or financial advisors. They may do this by insisting on secrecy or discouraging the senior from seeking a second opinion.

By understanding how these scams work and being aware of common tactics, older adults and their family caregivers can better protect themselves from falling victim to fraudsters. Older adults and their family caregivers should always be vigilant, question unexpected requests for information or money, and seek advice from trusted sources when in doubt.

Family Caregivers: The First Line of Defense Against Scams

If you are looking after an elderly love one, you play a crucial role in helping the people you care about avoid scams. Here are several steps you can take to protect your loved ones:

  1. Education: Give your loved one information about common scams and how they operate. Make them aware of red flags to watch out for, such as requests for personal information or money, unsolicited offers, or pressure tactics.

  2. Open Communication: Keep lines of communication open with your loved one one and encourage them to share any suspicious or unusual interactions they have, whether it's over the phone, through email, or in person.

  3. Set Boundaries: Help your loved ones establish boundaries for dealing with unsolicited contact. Encourage them to be cautious about sharing personal information or making financial decisions without consulting you or another trusted individual first.

  4. Verify Requests: Teach your loved ones to verify the legitimacy of requests for money or information before taking any action. This could involve independently researching the organization or individual making the request, contacting the company or agency directly using trusted contact information, or seeking advice from a trusted source.

  5. Monitor Financial Activity: Keep an eye on your loved one's financial accounts for any unusual or unauthorized transactions. Set up alerts for suspicious activity and regularly review statements together to ensure everything looks legitimate.

  6. Empower Seniors: Encourage your loved ones to assert themselves and say no to any requests that make them uncomfortable or seem suspicious. Remind them that it's okay to hang up the phone, delete suspicious emails, or close the door on unexpected visitors.

  7. Stay Updated: Stay informed about the latest scams targeting seniors and share this information with your loved ones. Scams evolve over time, so it's important to stay vigilant and adapt preventive measures accordingly.

  8. Consider Legal Protections: Depending on the situation, you may want to explore legal protections such as power of attorney or guardianship to help safeguard your loved ones' financial interests if they are particularly vulnerable.

  9. Social Engagement: Encourage your loved ones to stay socially engaged and connected with friends, family, and community groups. Loneliness and isolation can make seniors more susceptible to scams, so maintaining a strong support network can help reduce the risk.

  10. Report Scams: If your loved ones encounter a scam, encourage them to report it to the appropriate authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or their state attorney general's office. You can also implement a credit freeze to protect yourself or the older adults in your care. This article explains more: What To Know About Credit Freezes and Fraud Alerts | Consumer Advice ( Reporting scams not only helps protect the senior but also prevents others from falling victim to the same fraudsters.

By taking these proactive steps, family caregivers can help empower seniors to protect themselves from scams and financial exploitation. Questions? Need help? Johnson McGinnis Elder Care Law & Estate Planning is here for you. Just give us a call at 615.824.2571.



bottom of page