Scams against seniors on the rise

As the older adult population continues to grow, so do cases of financial fraud against seniors. During the pandemic, many seniors have been isolated at home and have become the perfect target for scammers. According to the FBI, seniors lose more than $3 billion annually from financial exploitation.

The Division of Aging Services Adult Protective Services investigated more than 9,000 reports of financial exploitation against seniors and adults with disabilities in 2020 alone. And tax season increases scam traffic as fraudsters set their sights on seniors’ tax returns.

Two of the most prevalent scams against seniors include:

1. Medicare/Health Insurance Fraud 

Since every U.S. citizen over the age of 65 qualifies for Medicare, scammers can target a senior based on their age. With health insurance scams, perpetrators pose as a health insurance or Medicare representative to convince the senior to give them their personal information. If you believe your caller is a scammer, hang up. Call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and report the Medicare imposter at ftc.gov/complaint.

2. IRS Impersonators

Criminals typically threaten seniors over email, mail, phone or in person by saying they owe money for taxes. They demand that the person pay immediately or face potential jail time. The scammers use scare tactics to convince older adults to give financial information over the phone. If this happens via phone, hang up. Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to check the validity of the call.

The number of different scams against seniors and disabled adults is far too long and growing every day. Other scams include telemarketing, robocalls, counterfeit prescription medications, investment schemes and more.

How can you protect yourself or your older loved one from falling victim to a scam? Be vigilant! If something feels off about a call, hang up. Consider placing a fraud alert on their financial accounts so that if a scammer attempts to access their account, an alert will be sent to the accountholder.

Unfortunately, over 90% of elder financial abuse is committed by a senior’s own family members. Elder financial abuse most frequently occurs when a family member or caregiver has gained control of a senior’s money and assets and are using those assets for their own benefit and not the benefit of the senior.

If you believe you have been a victim of a scam or financial abuse, call your local police department, bank and the Adult Protective Services hotline. Contact Adult Protective Services at 1-866-55AGING (1-855-552-4464) and press “3.”

Adult Protective Services is the state entity charged with investigating reports of abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, exploitation and self-neglect of at-risk adults with disability and elder persons age 65 and above who are not residents of a long-term care facility. To report abuse of seniors or adults with disabilities, please call 1-866-55AGING (1-866-552-4464) press "3" or file a report online.