Seniors are more likely to be targeted by scammers than other generations for a variety of reasons. Older adults are more trusting and polite because we’re used to living in a world where we can look someone in the eye and make a deal — and unfortunately, that’s just not the case anymore. Also, retirees typically have more assets and therefore more to lose. Worse yet, retirees are less likely to hear about potential scams through social networks and less likely to report a fraud if it occurs.
While all of this sounds scary, there are easy steps you can take to protect yourself from scams. Knowing how criminals use tactics by phone, mail, in-person, email or fake websites to make their offers feel legitimate makes it a lot easier to stay safe. Knowing the warnings signs below can keep your information private and your money in your wallet.
You’re asked to wire money or send a prepaid gift card to a stranger.
Being asked to send money through an unusual form of payment — especially to someone you don’t know personally — is a red flag. Money wires and prepaid gift cards are common requests because they are untraceable and irreversible forms of payment.
You’ve won a contest you didn’t enter.
If you won a contest you don’t remember entering, it’s probably a scam. Someone may claim you won the lottery, a contest or a prize you never signed up to win and ask for personal information in return.
You have to pay a fee to receive your “prize.”
The scammer will ask you to send money, sometimes overseas, explaining that you need to pay a fee to collect your winnings and you will receive the prize after you pay — but it never comes. Remember that legitimate sweepstakes are free and require no payments.
You’re pressured to “act now!”
This is a common tactic employed by scammers to pressure you into making a rash decision. If you feel pressured to make a quick decision that makes you feel uneasy, exit the situation.
Your personal information is requested.
If someone contacts you and requests information like your bank account or social security number, it may be fraud. For example, scammers may call posing as your bank while claiming there’s a problem with your account — requesting your personal information to resolve it. A good rule to follow: unless you contact the organization yourself, do not provide personal information. If you are unsure, hang-up and call back using a legitimate phone number listed on their website.
A large down payment is needed.
A request for a large up-front payment is a sign that the person you are talking to might not be legitimate. Scammers will claim they will provide you with a service such as lawn care, tree trimming or contractor/repair services and request a large down payment because they never plan to complete the work. Never provide more than half the money up-front and always leave at least 30 percent of the total unpaid until the job is complete.
Our sincere thanks to Ryan Lippe and The Ohio Attorney General’s Office for coming to Friendship Village of Dublin to share with members of the community information and tips about the common scams and fraud that take place in Ohio and target seniors. This blog post is a summary of the basic tips and information Ryan provided our group.
This event was not sponsored by, nor affiliated with, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. The Ohio Attorney General’s office does not endorse or recommend Friendship Village of Dublin or any products or services affiliated with Friendship Village of Dublin.