Senior holding hands with their caregiver

Protecting Seniors from Financial Exploitation: Common Scams to Watch Out For

They say a fool and his money are soon parted, but modern-day scammers are getting so sophisticated that plenty of non-foolish folks are being taken in as well. 

Newly released data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shows that consumers reported losing more than $10 billion to fraud in 2023 — a 14% increase over 2022. Drilling down on the data by metro area shows Jackson and the surrounding counties (Copiah, Hinds, Holmes, Madison, Rankin, Simpson, and Yazoo) is something of a hot-spot for scammers.

This hard data aligns with the anecdotal information the Palmer & Slay PLLC team hears from its elder law and estate planning clients in Brandon, Mississippi and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, those hardest hit are often seniors who may not understand the technology bad actors are using to make their stories sound believable. 

Here are just a few of the scams targeting seniors that we have been hearing about recently:

  • Grandparent ScamOne prevalent tactic involves scammers posing as distressed grandchildren in urgent need of financial assistance. The scammer may even use voice changing software to make themselves sound exactly like a grandchild. And some have been known to comb obituaries for the names of grandchildren, then do research on the child so they can sound more believable when they call. The fraudster exploits the senior’s emotions and desire to protect their loved ones.
  • Social Security Scams Fraudsters may use fake phone numbers in order to impersonate officials from the Social Security Administration or another government agency. They then claim there is an issue with the senior’s benefits or that their Social Security number has been compromised. These scams aim to extract personal information or payments under false pretenses.
  • The Amazon Order Scam Scammers use the same phone number spoofing technology as in the social security scams to fool seniors into thinking their Amazon account has been compromised and steps must be taken to secure it. Unfortunately the information given over to secure it is just the information the scammer needs to hack an Amazon account or gain access to (and drain) a bank account. 
  • Lottery and Sweepstakes ScamsSeniors are frequently targeted by people congratulating them for winning a fake lottery or sweepstakes winnings that requires them to pay upfront fees or taxes to claim their supposed prize. The allure of a substantial windfall can cloud judgment and lead to financial loss.
  • Tech Support Scams Scammers often pose as tech support agents, claiming that the senior’s computer has a virus or security issue. They convince the victim to grant remote access to their device, allowing the scammer to steal sensitive information or install malware.
  • Telemarketing Fraud Seniors are often targeted by phone scammers who use high-pressure tactics to sell fake products, services, or investment opportunities. These scams can range from fake charities and phony health products to fraudulent home improvement services.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If fraudsters put half as much effort into working an honest job as they do coming up with new scams or improving on old ones, they would probably do quite well for themselves! 

Preserving Your Wealth. Protecting Your Loved Ones. 

The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from these scams targeting seniors is to educate yourself about them. Always be wary of unexpected calls or emails, offers that sound too good to be true, and people pressuring you to act quickly and avoid consulting others. 
You can also go a step further and have Palmer & Slay’s elder law and estate planning attorneys help you protect you or your loved one’s assets. Please contact us today to discuss your options.