In 2021, nearly 100,000 elderly adults fell victim to scams that cost them nearly $2 billion. The scam industry is growing every year, so everyone must learn how to spot a scam from a mile away.
Unfortunately, scams are constantly becoming more sophisticated, and scammers often target people they see as most vulnerable or those with a lot of money–the elderly.
Here are three of the most common scams to watch out for when you pick up the phone from an unknown caller.
#1: Grandparent Scam
You love your grandchildren dearly and want to help them in any way you can. While your motives are admirable, scammers anticipate your love and affection and take advantage of you.
In a grandparent scam, the scammer pretends to be one of your grandchildren and asks for money. Scammers will try to get you to name one of your grandchildren that they might sound like, so they can play off that trust and relationship to get you to send them money.
How to Avoid:
If you ever receive a phone call like this, never give a child’s name. But more importantly, immediately hang up the phone and call your grandchild directly to confirm whether or not they attempted to call you.
#2: Government Impersonation Scam
While scams are scary, government impersonation scams are downright terrifying. As an authority who can put people in jail, hearing the government call you can put you in a state of fear that short circuits logical thinking–the very thing scammers want.
When a scammer calls you impersonating the government, they’ll attempt to use a phone number similar to the government agency they’re impersonating. They’ll pressure you into making a payment online by giving your information.
How to Avoid:
Government agencies never call you on the phone to collect payments. The moment someone says they’re calling from the government to collect a payment, hang up immediately.
#3: Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams
When someone receives a call saying they’ve won a brand-new truck, an all-expenses-paid vacation to Europe, or an insane amount of money, “recipients” may be so excited about “winning” that they don’t think about whether or not the call is real.
These scammers will ask you to send them money or gift cards to cover the taxes and fees.
How to Avoid:
First things first, if you didn’t enter a giveaway of any kind, there’s no reason to receive a call about winning a prize. When you receive this call, immediately hang up.
The challenge with this scam is if you have entered giveaways before, you might be tempted to continue listening. The big giveaway in this scam is when they ask you to pay upfront without first receiving your prize. If it’s truly a prize, you shouldn’t have to pay a dime.
Scammers are constantly improving their craft to make their scams more believable and appealing. And while the scammer might sound like your grandchild, the government, or Publishing Clearing House, your best defense is to use common sense, hang up the phone, and block the number.