How to Protect the Elderly from a Scam

Financial scammers target many groups of people who may not be aware of their different techniques. One of these groups who are taken advantage of, unfortunately, includes the elderly. Seniors in the U.S. lose about $36.5 billion per year due to various types of financial abuse. These financial scammers use effortless methods to obtain data/money from a victim through phone calls, emails, and in person. In the mindset of a scammer, it is simple to acquire money from a grandparent, for instance, by using a family member’s name or an incident to pull a heartstring, causing them to give away all sorts of information such as a name, address, phone number, banking information, etc.  With any of the elderly, a scammer thinks that they are not technically savvy enough to understand the latest programs or ideas causing the elders to be confused and give away confidential information. It’s important to be aware at all times, refrain from sharing too much information, and flee from any suspicious activity.

Top Recognized Scams to Avoid

  1. Investment Scams: If you get a call from a relative, a friend, or even just someone friendly telling you to invest in some sort of property, don’t even invest your time. Simply hang up. They will really try to sell this idea to you using phrases like, “once-in-a-lifetime”, “number one opportunity”, “best offer”, “too good to be true”, or “triple your money”, but you must ignore them.

  2.  Lottery Scams: Many victims are notified by a scammer that they have just won the lottery and must now disclose personal information and send a check to “unlock” their winning money. If you did not buy a lottery ticket then it should be obvious that this is a scam.

  3. Grandparents Scams: As mentioned earlier, grandparents usually have a soft side for their children and grandchildren and would do anything to save them. The scammer knows this and uses it to their advantage by calling to say that a family member has been kidnapped, in a car accident, beaten up, etc. to entice the grandparent to consider ways to rescue them. This can be by giving credit card information, sending cash, or more. There are scammers that pretend to be a grandchild and will seek to receive information through a conversation as an imposter. The best thing to do would be to call the number of the person in trouble and match the story with them to check its validity.

  4. Email Scams: Emails are a focal point of how we communicate today.  It is too easy to make a mistake by opening an email and clicking on a website/file/picture that is attached. This can lead to a virus that consumes everything in your computer, deleting programs on your computer or stealing all your information. If you receive an e-mail with an attachment from an unfamiliar contact or with a subject that promises to show you something bizarre, such as “I Can’t Believe You Did This!”, don’t open it.

  5. Medicaid/Medicare ID Theft Scams: Phone calls from scammers pretending to be government agencies will involve the individual on the other side telling you that you need to create a new card and asking for your personal information such as your name, social security number, address, etc. The purpose of this is for identity theft. Do not ever give such data over the phone.


Protection Methods

  1. “Don’t talk to strangers”: If you do not know the person asking for your details, simply hang up, delete the email, or walk away from them.

  2. Code Word: In case of Scam #3, create a family code word for your relatives to ensure safety. This way, if a scammer calls impersonating a family member, you can ask for the code word and if they are unsure, you can be positive that they are not the relative.

  3. Search the Scammer: Chances are, the person who is trying to take your information has done it to multiple people before you. Therefore, jot down their name, number, and what they’re saying and asking for. Search it up on the Internet. Many report their experiences and post them online for others to protect them from getting scammed.

  4. Delayed Decisions: Take your time. Do not make any “spur-of-the-moment” choices, but rather think it through and wait until you’re sure of what you want to do about this situation. Ask around you and see if it’s a good move to make.

  5. < > By staying educated on this topic, you become more aware of the troubles it causes. Knowing different stories and downfalls of people who have been scammed should make you more careful when it comes to answering every new phone call you receive.

    Be Firm: Showing kindness to people who are trying to take information from you will be a sign to the scammers that you are an easy target. Deny that you live alone, even if you do, because being alone shows vulnerability.

  6. “Do Not Call “List: Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry to take your number off of multiple mailing lists which can be abused by those seeking to scam you.


Inna Fershteyn
Law Office of Inna Fershteyn and Associates, P.C.
1517 Voorhies Ave, Suite 400
Brooklyn, NY 11235
tel: 718-333-2394
fax: 718-701-8859