March 20, 2018 | Posted in:

3 Scams That Frequently Target Senior Citizens

Are you enjoying retirement and collecting Social Security benefits? Get ready. Fraudsters are pulling back their bowstrings. There’s a bullseye on your back. Here are three scams focused on seniors:


“You’ve won a big prize.”

You get a “registered” letter in your mailbox claiming that you’ve won a huge pile of money. But there’s a catch. To receive your prize, you need to send a small processing fee. Fraudsters have scored millions of dollars from unwary seniors using this ploy. If you respond, you’ll likely be deluged with future fraudulent mailings. Toss the letter in the trash.


“I’m from the IRS. Trust me.”

Someone calling from a Washington, DC area code (202) uses high-pressure tactics to scare you into paying alleged back taxes via gift card. How can you tell if a call really originates from the Internal Revenue Service? Legitimate federal agents will never ask you to pay taxes using a gift card, prepaid debit card or wire transfer. And if you really owe back taxes, you have the right to question or appeal the amount. Don’t fall for it.


“Grandma, I need cash really bad.”

A young person calls and claims to be your grandchild or great-grandchild. As always, the scammer hopes to gain your trust. The caller may claim to be trapped in an overseas jail or sitting in a small town car repair shop. He or she may have scanned social media sites to get just enough information to sound convincing. Deal with this scam by doing your own research. Call your relatives to verify the legitimacy of the request. Never send money or divulge financial information to someone you don’t know personally.


Of course, seniors aren’t the only victims of these nefarious schemes. But elderly people are often prime targets. That’s because they tend to have substantial assets, a steady stream of income and a trusting disposition.


If you suspect you’ve been a fraud target, report your incident to the Federal Trade Commission by visiting its website ( or calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).


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