5 Most Common Scams Targeting Seniors

Author: PeopleFinders on May 19th, 2020
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For a number of reasons, scammers seem to target seniors more frequently than other groups. Sometimes seniors are less internet-savvy, more trusting or easier to confuse, and can easily lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars to people willing to take advantage.

Whether you’re a senior yourself or you have elderly loved ones, you should always be on the lookout for scams targeting seniors, so you can prepare for them. It’s true that many seniors don’t ever have to deal with being scammed, but it’s still good to be prepared.

Be prepared the next time someone calls you or an older relative unexpectedly, and familiarize yourself with this list of five common senior scams:

1. Grandparent Scam

The so-called “grandparent scam” is a common one that targets seniors, and it’s startlingly effective. In this scam, someone calls and claims to be a relative, usually a grandchild. Then, the person insists on needing money immediately, whether for medical treatment, bail money, lawyer fees, or something similarly urgent. Scammers can use widely available sources to glean information about someone’s relatives, making these scams incredibly convincing.

2. Dating Scams

While you may think it’s mostly a younger person’s game, many older people date online nowadays. There are even dating websites focused specifically on seniors looking for love.

Scammers may take advantage of this fact and set up catfishing accounts to try to lure seniors into sending money. By building a pseudo-personal connection, catfishers can guilt seniors into sending large amounts of money.

3. Prescription Drug Scams

As people age, they tend to need more medications. And, in recent years, prescription drugs have become incredibly expensive. That one-two combination has led to some older people trying to purchase their medications online at a lower price.

Often, these sites are illegitimate. So, the pills delivered (if at all) are either very poorly manufactured or completely placebo. So, the purchase turns out to be a waste of money, with potential medical complications.

4. Social Security Scams

Many seniors rely mostly or entirely upon the Social Security Administration for benefits that help with food, medical treatment, housing, and general money allowances. Because Social Security benefits are so crucial for seniors, it presents an alluring target for scammers.

Scammers will often target seniors by calling them and posing as a Social Security employee. With one form of the scam, the fraudster will request that the senior provide personal information, including Social Security number and bank account information, in order to receive a bonus. In another, the scammer will say that the senior’s benefits are in jeopardy unless he or she pays a fee to continue receiving them.

In both cases, the scammer escapes with a substantial chunk of money and potentially even personal information.

5. Medicare Scams

Many seniors use Medicare as their health insurance. All U.S. citizens over 65 qualify for coverage, which means scammers don’t have to do a lot of research to find targets.

A scammer posing as a Medicare representative will call and say that he or she needs certain personal information to update records. Or they claim there’s an unpaid co-payment that has to be paid over the phone immediately. Similar to Social Security scams, these can be effective because they tamper with benefits that ensure a senior’s continued well-being.

How Can I Avoid These Scams?

One of the best ways to avoid scams is to know they exist in the first place. By having this information, you’re more likely to look out for these patterns, whether you’re a senior or in contact with an elderly relative. However, scams can be tricky. And they aren’t always as obvious as what you’ve read here. To deal with even the least obvious scams, use PeopleFinders to your advantage.

Any time you get a call from someone who claims to need personal information or wants you to send money, perform a reverse phone lookup on the number. Because phone scams are the most common senior scams, having the phone lookup tool at the ready may help you or your relative to stay safe.


Scammers are always looking to make a quick buck off anyone they can. Seniors, unfortunately, tend to bear the brunt of it. But they don’t have to . Whether you’re merely trying to stay safe as a senior or you want to make sure an older relative isn’t being scammed, use PeopleFinders to check calls for scammers.

For more information about how to remain safe from scams and fraud in your daily life, be sure to check out the PeopleFinders blog.

Image attribution: Daisy Daisy – stock.adobe.com

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Categorized in: Scams