Scams that Affect the Elderly

When you get a call from an unknown number you can almost bet that it’s a scam. A lot of people don’t even answer the phone to find out, but unfortunately our older generation might not be in the know. Some of our parents and grandparents are not as tech savvy and don’t know about the various scams and deceitful people that lurk on the other end of the phone. We need to stay informed of the various ways that criminals try to steal money. Some common scams to be aware of are “Romance Scams”, “Government Imposter Fraud”, “Lottery Fraud”, “Tech-Support Fraud”, “Person In Need Scams”, and “Phishing Scams”. Being aware of these scams can help us protect our loved ones from being taken advantage of. 

“Romance Scams” are when a criminal starts a relationship with your loved one, usually meeting off a dating site. They use this relationship to get money, a lot of time with the pretense of an emergency situation. The transfer of money is usually transferred through a money mule or through the transfer of gift cards. Make sure to tell your loved one to never send money without talking to you or another trusted person. Try to know who your older parents and grandparents keep in their life and talk to. Warn them that not everyone they meet on the internet is who they say they are. 

“Government Importer Fraud” can happen in a few different ways. People can call claiming to need your social security number due to fraudulent activity. These people can claim that your bank accounts have been hacked and that you need to move all of your money into gift cards to keep it safe. A lot of these scams require someone to put money on a gift card so that they can get the number and use the money. Scammers also portray themselves as many different government agencies. Some claim that you have a warrant and it needs to be paid over the phone. Always warn your loved ones that these kind of agencies will not call you and request money or require you to confirm your social security number. 

“Lottery Fraud” is when a scammer calls you and claims that you have won a sum of money or even an all expenses paid trip. The catch is that you have to pay either taxes or shipping and end up paying thousands without ever receiving your gift. It is especially important to tell your relatives that if they have not entered into a contest or played the lottery, then no one should be calling and telling them that they have won something. 

“Tech-Support Fraud” is when a scammer says that there is something wrong with your computer and then asks for remote access so they have control over everything you might keep on your computer. The hacking can give access to any saved credit cards that you might have. They might also ask for payment for “helping”. After payment is made, there is a second scam that they add on. Scammers will call back saying that you have paid too much and try to refund the money that you “overpaid” and then claim that they over refunded you. So this just becomes a cycle of them taking more and more money from you. If there are any problems with a computer, your loved one should talk to you or take it into a store with professionals. Unless you request help over the internet, no one should be calling you claiming that there is something wrong with your computer. 

“Person-in-Need Scams” are when someone calls and claims that a relative or person they care about is in some trouble. Some of these scams are very elaborate and make it sound like the person on the other end of the phone is your loved one. They require you to put money on gift cards to help out your relative. When it comes to these scams, remind your loved one that they should call the person who is claiming to be in need. This can ensure that this is a scam. 

Last on the list is “Phishing Scams”. These scams are usually emails that give a link, usually something enticing or something that might look normal like your utilities. The links will then usually infect your computer with a virus. They can even be sent as text messages. It is important to remember not to click on any links that you are not 100% sure are legitimate. 

These scams can affect just about anyone, but our older generation is more susceptible to falling for them. We need to help make sure they are protected. Scams are evolving as technology evolves. Make sure you stay vigilant and make sure to inform your older loved ones of the potential dangers.  



Aimee Gromowsky

Aimee Gromowsky is formerly an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Jackson County and currently a private practice lawyer. Ms. Gromowsky handles thousands of cases in Kansas City, Missouri area courts and was honored with a “Best in Bar” award in 2007 and 2008 from the Kansas City Business Journal. As a Kansas City traffic lawyer, Aimee is determined to represent you in your case by providing exceptional legal counsel and service.