The Senate Special Committee on Aging has estimated that senior citizens lose $2.9 billion each year from financial exploitation, with the number one scam targeting elderly folks last year being IRS impersonating. Now, experts are warning senior citizens what they should be looking out for when it comes to financial scams.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt stated that though over 1,500 seniors across the country contacted the committee’s fraud hotline in 2018, he believes that only 1 in every 24 cases of elder exploitation gets reported.
“Despite that under-reporting, statistically one in every 10 Americans age 65 or older who lives at home will become a victim of abuse,” he explained.
Here are the top 5 scams that targeted seniors last year, according to the Senate aging committee’s 2019 Fraud Book:
Over 2.4 million Americans have been targeted by scammers pretending to be with the IRS, and over 14,700 taxpayers have lost more than $72.8 million since 2013. The scammers typically threaten their targets with owing back taxes and warn foreclosure, arrest, or deportation if a payment isn’t made.
The Federal Communications Commission states that over 2.4 billion robocalls are made each month, and most of them originate overseas. In the robocalls, callers hide their identities with fake phone numbers and pretend to be from the government or assume a false identity as they try to obtain your personal information.
Sweepstakes scam/Jamaican lottery scam
This type of scam has the scammers falsely telling seniors that they have won the lottery or some other type of sweepstakes. The FCC said that the number of sweepstakes scams went up by 45.8 percent between 2013 and 2017, and many of the calls originate from phone numbers with an “876” area code, which is the area code of Jamaica.
Computer tech support fraud
Microsoft has said that around 3.3 million Americans are victims of technical support scams annually, with them losing roughly $1.5 billion per year. These scammers often pretend to be from renowned technology companies like Microsoft, Apple, or Dell. They then convince their victims that their computer has a virus before convincing them to hand over their personal information and bank account numbers.
Elder financial abuse
“Financial exploitation of older Americans is the illegal or improper use of an older adults fund’s property, or assets,” the Fraud Book states. The Government Accountability Office states that senior citizens lose around $2.9 billion annually due to financial exploitation, and these scammers can include family members, paid home-care workers or strangers who take advantage of seniors’ financial decision-making.
Please be aware of these scams and share this information with your family and friends to warn them as well.