How serious a problem is fraud against older adults?

According to The True Link Report on Elder Financial Abuse 2015, seniors lose about $30 billion a year to financial exploitation and criminal fraud.

Why are seniors a target?

All ages are vulnerable to scams and fraud but seniors are frequently targeted because they:

  • Have savings readily accessible
  • Are at home more often
  • Have a landline
  • Are often friendlier and more trusting

What are some of the ways seniors get scammed?

  • “Phishing” e-mails
  • Phone calls with Caller ID spoofing
  • Charitable requests by phone and through the mail
  • Fake lotteries

What are some of the current scams in West Michigan?:

  • Phone calls or e-mails from the “IRS”
  • Phone call or e-mail from someone claiming to be a family member or friend in trouble
  • Imposters demanding payment for Consumers Energy bill immediately
  • Phone sales of fake or overpriced Personal Emergency Response Systems
  • False computer message of a virus and phone calls from Microsoft imposter that software license needs to be renewed
  • Solicitations from questionable charities
  • Home delivery of gift baskets with the intention of stealing credit card information

What are some warning signs that it might be a scam?

  • Time limit or sense of urgency
  • Request for payment using a green dot card, credit card or iTunes gift card
  • Emotional trigger such as excitement or fear

How can seniors protect themselves?

  • Do not click on e-mail links or open attachments unless you are certain of their authenticity
  • Screen phone calls and listen to the message before picking up the phone
  • Take your time and think carefully before giving payment to anyone. Talk it over with someone you trust if you’re not sure
  • Research charities at www.charitynavigator .com or the Michigan Attorney General’s website
  • Do not give out your social security number, Medicare number or any account numbers over the phone
  • Monitor all statements and bills closely
  • If you are a victim or fraud or identity theft, put a Fraud Alert on your credit report by contacting one of the major credit bureaus
  • Stay up to date on current scams

For a list of resources for seniors and their families, visit:

Remember: The IRS will not call you. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell your family, spread the word. The more we talk about scams, the harder it will be for the criminals to carry them out.