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How to Identify the Most Common Scams

Elder financial exploitation scams are on the rise. Scammers will go through an array of lengths and measures to scam people out of money. Getting them to send money is not their only goal, they also want them to give up their personal and financial information. It is important to recognize scams before you give out any information. If you are ever in doubt, get assistance from a relative, your financial institution, or local police.

Here are the most common schemes out there today and things to look out for:

  • Emergency Scams: When it comes to family there isn’t much, we wouldn’t do to keep them safe, and unfortunately scammers know this, and they use it against us. Emergency scams are sometimes referred to as grandparent or family imposter scams. This is when scammers convince an older adult that one of their relatives is experiencing some type of emergency and they need money to help them. This emergency could be medical, trouble with the law, or transportation out of a foreign country. They sometimes even impersonate one of their relatives to make it more believable. The best course of action here, if this happens, is to get all the information you can, and contact that relative with the number you have for them. If you cannot reach that person, reach out to someone you trust on how you should proceed. Do not give them any personal information.
  • Government Imposter Scams: Scammers will impersonate government officials from agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service stating you owe back taxes, or the Social Security Administration stating your benefits have been frozen for one reason or another, among others. Keep in mind, these agencies will not contact you by phone demanding payment, but if you find yourself on the receiving end of one of these calls, you can always get all the information you can, hang up, and reach out to someone you trust on how you should proceed. Do not give them any personal information.
  • Lottery/giveaway Scams: Scammers convince victims that they won the lottery or some other type of prize, but they must pay taxes, shipping, or other fees to receive their money or have access to their winnings. The victim sends out the funds and never receives anything back. If you ever receive a call stating you won the lottery or a drawing, but you didn’t enter a lottery or drawing, it is a scam, hang up do not give out any of your personal information. If you are unsure on how to proceed, reach out to someone you trust for guidance.
  • Romance Scam: Scammers will build a relationship with their victim via online (dating websites or social media apps) They will continue this relationship outside of these websites and apps working hard to build trust. Once trust has been built, they start asking for money for fake travel expenses, medical needs, or other untrue scenarios. It sometimes takes months before the victim realizes what is going on and by then they could have been scammed out of thousands of dollars. Be vigilant on who you are communicating with and never give out any personal information over the phone or internet.