How to Avoid the Many Kinds of Scams

To better fool us, scammers put a lot of time, effort, creativity and technology into their scams. You don’t have to be dumb to be scammed.
How to Avoid Scams

Prime women defy the usual stereotypes of females in the second half of life. We don’t want to be thought of as people who sit in rocking chairs. Nor do we want to be considered dumb little old ladies who are easy to take advantage of. Nevertheless, far too many older women (and men) become victims of scams, perhaps because older people are more likely to have some money to steal. 

Trending Scams

Scams targeting seniors continue to evolve, exploiting vulnerabilities and trust to defraud unsuspecting individuals. In the digital age, these scams have become more sophisticated, posing significant financial and emotional risks to those involved. As of the most recent reports, several prevalent scams are particularly impacting senior citizens, exploiting their goodwill, lack of tech-savviness, and sometimes loneliness. Here’s an overview of some of the most current scams:

  1. Tech Support Scams: With the increasing reliance on technology, seniors are often targeted with fake tech support scams. Fraudsters impersonate reputable companies like Microsoft or Apple, claiming that the victim’s computer has a virus or security issue. They then convince seniors to provide remote access to their devices or pay for unnecessary tech support services. This not only results in financial loss but also compromises sensitive personal information.
  2. Social Security Impersonation Scams: Scammers often pretend to be from the Social Security Administration, claiming that there’s a problem with the senior’s benefits or that they need to verify personal information. They may threaten to suspend benefits or issue arrest warrants if immediate action isn’t taken. This preys on seniors’ fear and trust in government agencies, leading them to disclose personal details or send money to fraudsters.
  3. Grandparent Scams: This emotional scam involves fraudsters posing as grandchildren or someone claiming to represent them, often in distressing situations like accidents or legal trouble. They then request immediate financial assistance, exploiting seniors’ love and concern for their family members. Despite the urgency, these requests are often part of an elaborate scheme to extract money without any real emergency.
  4. Romance Scams: Seniors, especially those who are widowed or divorced, are vulnerable to romance scams where fraudsters establish fake romantic relationships online. Over time, they gain the trust of their victims and then request money for various reasons such as medical emergencies, travel expenses, or investments. These scams can result in significant financial losses and profound emotional distress.
  5. Healthcare Fraud: Seniors are targeted with fraudulent schemes related to healthcare, including fake medical products, services, or insurance plans. Scammers may offer bogus health supplements, medical equipment, or even fake COVID-19 treatments, exploiting seniors’ health concerns and desire for affordable healthcare solutions.

Education and awareness are crucial to combating these scams. Organizations and authorities need to provide resources and information to help seniors recognize and avoid falling victim to these schemes. Additionally, caregivers and family members play a vital role in monitoring seniors’ financial activities and providing support to help them navigate the complexities of the digital world safely. By staying informed and vigilant, seniors can protect themselves from falling prey to these harmful scams.

Scams Require Clever Perpetrators

dangerous guy

Scammers are usually very clever people who would rather trick the rest of us out of our hard-earned and carefully saved money than work for an honest living. To better fool us, they invest a lot of time, effort, creativity, and technology into their scams. You don’t have to be dumb to be scammed.

Below are some true stories of actual people who became involved in scams. The details have been changed to protect the vulnerable. Remember that these are only examples, and today’s or tomorrow’s cons may contain new and interesting twists.

True Stories About Scams


upset woman

The first example occurred in Canada. A woman received a call saying that police were holding her husband and that she would never see him again unless she immediately sent $30,000. She was not to call the police since they were the ones holding her spouse. She panicked. Otherwise, she would have realized that Canada operates under the rule of law. The police are on our side and do not kidnap people.

She immediately sent the $30,000. The fund transfer was successful, but the scammers told her that it had not gone through and that she should resend it. So she sent another $30,000. She was in the middle of sending $30,000 for the third time when her husband walked in the door.


The second example involves a phishing expedition when messages are sent from a supposedly legitimate source to extract valuable data like banking information or credit card numbers. In this case, the message appeared to come from a major phone company. The woman who bit was not your usual victim. She was the recently retired head of a very large, respected organization. However, she had just spent a lot of time and effort installing services from that same phone company, and the scam email appeared legitimate. It was only after she had input far too many personal details that she realized this was a scam and stopped, but by then, she was already faced with changing all the card numbers, etc., that she had already sent to the scammer.

Pre-Payment for Services Scams

Writing a Check

The third is a lovely example of a very specialized scam. It is aimed at marriage commissioners (MC), the officials who perform civil weddings. An MC was booked for a wedding as usual, and she requested her normal small fee. The scammer then told a story about how a wealthy friend was paying for a good chunk of the wedding but only wished to write one check. Would the MC take and deposit this large check and give the wedding planner a check for the balance after deducting her fee?

In this case, the MC would not, so the only thing she lost was a booking for an actual wedding in the time slot she had held for the scammer. Others, wishing to be nicer to the scammer and do him a favor, lost thousands when their own check to the scammer was cashed and the check they had received bounced.

False Inheritances

woman using credit card

Then there are all the old tried and true scams that are still out there because they still work. You have just won/inherited a lot of money, and we just need a few dollars and your banking information to send it to you.

Or, your grandchild is in jail and needs bail, or your mother is in the hospital and needs medical care. Maybe it is something as minor as a not-quite-legitimate e-tailer who takes your money and never sends what you thought you had ordered. The list goes on and on regarding false claims you might face one day. 

8 rules to avoid being the next patsy:

  • Never get involved in a transaction that you did not initiate. This is the first and most important rule and could well save your family fortune.
  • If it sounds too good or too awful to be true, hang up or delete it. In the very remote case that it is legitimate, someone will get back to you.
  • Detach if you are asked for money or personal information.
  • If in doubt, verify. The victim in our first example could have saved a lot of money simply by dialing her husband’s phone. Do not believe that you have to act this instant. Even if a person is in jail or the hospital, an hour will not make a difference, and you can check things out in a few minutes.
  • Ask for information the caller should have. Your bank will have your account number. If they ask you for it for verification, ask them to tell you, and you will advise them if it is correct. Also, anyone who has seen your grandchild will know how old and how tall he or she is.
  • Do not use any links or phone numbers a possible scammer might give you. They could be a setup. Instead, call your bank using the emergency number on the back of your credit card or ask a search engine to take you to the official website of an organization for contact information.
  • To verify, use a different phone or another mode. Clever phone scammers might ask you to call the police. You hang up, but they do not, so your call to them is not disconnected. When you pick up your phone, they play a recording of a dial tone and then pretend to be the police.
  • Finally, be on your guard for all the bright and unexpected ideas scammers have yet to come up with. They’ll go to endless lengths to try and part us from our funds.

Read Next:

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