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  • South Central Florida Life

Expert warns of ‘elder fraud’ targeting seniors across America

Elder fraud is where fraudsters target your parents, grandparents and those from the elderly community. Fraudsters often take advantage of those who aren’t tech-savvy, so familiarizing yourself with scams can lead to preventing the fraudsters from being successful. Cybersecurity expert Brandon King from Home Security Heroes has compiled a list of tips to spot and prevent fraud.

What is elder fraud and who are the targets?

Fraudsters target seniors in elder fraud by tricking them into giving sensitive information or offering fake financial benefits. Perpetrators could be strangers or known to the elderly, like family, friends or colleagues, and victims can lose their savings and suffer devastating consequences. For example, American seniors aged 60 and above lost over $1.6 billion to fraudsters in 2021 alone

Older adults are a prime target for fraudsters. They normally target victims in retirement or close to retirement as they have a steady income, excellent credit history and more savings than younger people.

The most common scams for elders to look out for:

• Grandparent scams: Scammers often pose as the victim’s grandchild to dupe seniors into sending money urgently for emergency expenses like overdue rent or car repairs. They often ask for secrecy, and in one case, an elderly woman in Ohio was scammed of $20,000 by someone posing as law enforcement in 2019.

• Romance scams: Romance scams often target women 50 and above, but men can be victims too. Scammers will usually target seniors who have lost their spouses and are looking for companionship. An example of would be perpetrators requesting money transfers or gift card vouchers sent to an email address.

• False charity scams: Fraudsters may pose as representatives from a real charity or create fictitious charity organizations. They can make calls, text, or send emails. In some cases, they may even visit seniors in person. False charity schemes commonly happen after a significant event, like a health crisis, global socio-political campaigns, or a natural disaster.

• Medical scams: Seniors may feel overwhelmed by Medicaid, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, and the recurring complexity of the healthcare system. This can make them vulnerable to criminals. Scammers may impersonate Medicare representatives to entice seniors into disclosing personal information like Social Security numbers.

What are some other common types of elder fraud?

Protecting seniors from scams is crucial, as scammers use various methods to steal personal information and money. Elder scams include fake medical schemes, investment scams, and phishing emails, taking advantage of the complexity of the healthcare system and seniors’ fixed income. To avoid falling victim, seniors and their loved ones should research charities, verify emails and phone calls, and be cautious of unsolicited requests for money or personal information. Additionally, seniors should beware of insurance coverage scams, romance scams, government impersonation, sweepstakes and lottery scams, identity theft, and tech support scams. Taking precautions and being aware of these scams can help prevent them.

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