Weekly Feature

2018-09-13 / Business

Seniors are at risk for specific scams

Older consumers have the lowest risk of being scammed, but that doesn't mean scammers aren’t targeting this demographic, according to the Better Business Bureau. Older scam victims reported higher median losses, likely due to the different types of scams aimed at this group.

There are several types of scams targeted at older victims including:

Emergency scams

This trick begins with a phone call from someone posing as a grandchild or other young family member, according to the Better Business Bureau. The phony grandchild will claim to be out of town and in an emergency situation — anything from a car accident to wrongful arrest. The scam artist will urge the victim to send money as soon as possible.

Investment cons

These cons often target seniors because of their greater financial resources. They frequently prey on longstanding group connections — such as through a religious organization or an ethnic group — where members trust each other. Even savvy investors can still fall victim to this scam, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Romance scams

Seniors who are widowed or divorced are frequent targets of romance scams. Con artists create compelling backstories, and full-fledged identities, then trick people into falling for someone who doesn’t even exist.

To avoid these cons, start by getting another perspective. All of the above cons work because the target feels ashamed or pressured and keeps the scam a secret. Those who have been targeted by something that seems suspicious should seek an outside opinion.

Doing research can also prevent individuals from becoming victims.

If something seems strange, such as a new romance asking for money or an out-of-the blue emergency, search for it online. Scammers often reuse images or stories. BBB.org/ScamTracker chronicles other individual’s experiences.

It is useful to know what family members are sharing online. Seniors can be susceptible to emergency scams and other ploys because they aren’t familiar with the information about themselves and their family available online. Seniors should familiarize themselves with what they are sharing on social media.

Resist the urge to act immediately. Con artists almost always will pressure victims into acting before they’ve had time to think it over.

For more information, visit the Grandparents Day article on BBB.org.

To find out more about scams, including typical cons and practical advice, visit BBB.org/ScamTips.

If you’ve been the victim of a social media scam, help others avoid falling victim by reporting what happened on the BBB Scam Tracker.

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