We’ve all seen the images on TV of the crime sprees taking place in major cities right before our eyes and our government officials’ unwillingness and inability to address the issue. Now, imagine those crimes magnified in scale yet perpetrated entirely in cyberspace without the benefit of phone-toting onlookers to call attention to the issue. That is the stark reality depicted in the FBI’s latest report. Even more infuriating is the target scammers are focusing on, America’s seniors.
Keep reading to learn tips on how to protect you and your family and how you can save over 50% on our top recommended solution, Identity Guard.
Americans, Young and Old are Being Scammed, However Seniors are Becoming a Scammer’s Piggy Bank
Individuals in their 30s and 40s made up the most targeted age groups in terms of number of scams, but seniors over 60 were the most impacted when it comes to financial losses taking a $35,000 hit on average.
Seniors are often attractive targets for scammers due to their unique generational values and potential cognitive changes that come with age. Many older adults grew up in an era characterized by trust and face-to-face interactions, making them more inclined to believe and engage with strangers. This trust, combined with a potential lack of digital savvy in a rapidly evolving technological age, means they might not recognize the signs of digital scams, such as phishing emails or counterfeit software prompts. Additionally, their accumulated savings and assets over a lifetime present a lucrative opportunity for fraudsters.
Furthermore, factors like isolation, which means limited social interactions, can make seniors more receptive to unsolicited calls or emails simply for the sake of conversation. Scammers also manipulate seniors' emotions, playing on fears, such as the well-being of a family member or potential legal troubles.
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How are Seniors Being Targeted?
According to the FBI and other independent experts, the most common frauds schemes targeting seniors include:
Tech Support & Government Impersonation Scams
Illegal call centers, many of whom are located offshore in countries such as India, defraud thousands of victims each year. Tech/Customer Support and Government Impersonation, combined for over $1 billion in losses to victims in 2022 and are growing rapidly.
Professional thieves target the elderly, with devastating effects. Nearly half of victims report to be over 60 (46%), and experience 69% of the losses (over $724 million). Victims over 60 lost more to these scams than all other age groups combined, and reportedly remortgaged/foreclosed homes, emptied retirement accounts, and borrowed from family and friends to cover losses in these scams.
Grandparent scams are a fraudulent scheme in which scammers impersonate a grandchild or another family member, often claiming they are in immediate financial need due to an emergency. With recent improvements in Artificial Intelligence technology, these scams have become more sophisticated.
Romance scams targeting seniors involve fraudsters who feign romantic intentions to win the trust of elderly individuals, only to deceive them into giving away money or personal information. Leveraging online platforms and manipulating emotions, these scammers exploit the loneliness and vulnerability of older adults for financial gain. The FBI reported 7,166 victims over 60 who experienced almost $419 million in losses to Confidence/Romance scams in 2022.
Other scams include home repair scams where criminals appear in person and charge homeowners in advance for home improvement services that they never provide. TV/radio scams using illegitimate advertisements about legitimate services, such as reverse mortgages or credit repair. And Family/caregiver scams leveraging relatives or acquaintances of the elderly victims take advantage of them or otherwise get their money.
How Much was Lost by Seniors in Your State?
The top four states report victim losses over 200 million dollars with California, the nation’s most populous state with over 600 million dollars in losses. With loses this staggering, top-rated identity protection tools are a necessity.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
By reading this article, you’re taking the first step in protection by simply being aware of the latest scams and tactics used by fraudsters. Government websites, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the FBI, often provide updates on current scams and can be valuable resources.
1. Arm Yourself With Identity Protection
As scammers have become more sophisticated in their tactics, so have the companies that keep you safe. Our top recommended identity theft company is Identity Guard which has been in business for over 25 years. Their service not only provides tools to monitor your identity, credit, and financial information, but assigns customers a US-based restoration agent in the event of a scam. In addition, Identity Guard customers are backed by $1 million identity theft insurance to cover losses, legal fees, and more.
Sign up today and receive alerts if personal data such as your Social Security number and more are found on the dark web and defend yourself against scammers.
2. Do Your Homework, but Don’t Rush
Being skeptical of offers and confirming information provided by a scammer over the phone or online is a great start. Scammers will always pressure you to move faster than you’re comfortable to avoid this step. Understand that most legitimate businesses would not operate in this manner if they valued your business.
3. Be Aware of Uncommon Payment Options
If someone is asking for payment via gift cards, cryptocurrency, or cash, no matter the circumstances, this is a clear giveaway that you’re being targeted. Criminals prefer methods of payment that are hard to trace for authorities so steer clear of paying anyone via these methods, under any circumstances.
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