Look, there are countless money scams that seniors face.
Get this, in the US alone, scams cheat seniors out of $3 billion annually.
Of course, these scams can affect anyone. But seniors tend to be victimized the most by unscrupulous online characters.
We often talk about keeping the internet safe for children, but what about the dangers that our elders face?
Today we will take a look at common online scams, including financial scams related to Covid-19, and ways to spot them.
Let’s dive in!
Identifying Online Scams
As someone who has used the internet actively for the better part of two decades, I have seen copious amounts of scams. And although the focus of this article is related to Covid-19 scams. There are a few signs that we can find from looking at scams in general.
At this point, I can spot a scam second hand with only a few details. So how can seniors identify scams?
Here are three money signs that give away a scam.
Money Scam Sign #1- They Approach You
Most scammers will approach their victims. Rarely will you bump into a scam on your own.
Methods scammers use to approach you:
- Facebook messages
- Cell phone texts or calls
- Popups on websites
Whether it is via email, or a random Facebook message from a stranger or a friend’s hacked account. Rarely, will you ever approach a scammer online.
But it’s not that simple! As you may suspect, scammers have found ways to approach their prospect victims incognito. Which brings us to money scam spotting method #2.
Money Scam Sign #2- Scammers Use Fake Authority
Often scammers will pretend to be from a site you use.
This is where most seniors fall victim.
Seniors may receive a call from someone pretending to be from the government.
Or, get a text telling them they have an inquiry from Home Away.
Or, even an email that appears to be from your bank or PayPal.
These are some of the hardest scams for seniors to spot. Fortunately there is a simple solution, which we will cover in depth latter.
Here’s the deal, always verify the URL you are visiting. Is the URL or website address you are lead to, the actual site’s address? Or does it just look similar?
Using fake authority may not be about stealing money directly. It is often a phishing attempt to gain your login information.
Money Scam Sign #3- They Want Gift Cards or Western Union
Finally, scammers nearly always want payment. Seniors should always be aware!
NEVER send payment through Money Gram, Western Union or via gift card to someone you do not personally know.
If the person on the other end requires payment, especially if they claim to be from the government, they can take payment via credit card or check like anyone else.
BE AWARE! This is not to say that people asking for payment via check or credit card are always legitimate.
Covid-19 Related Scams
We will jump right into more long term scams that seniors may face, but during this hectic time with so much information about Covid-19 laws, there are lots of new COVID-19 scams arising.
At this time, hardly any scam is more prevalent than Covid-19 scams.
With government payouts en route, scammers hope to take advantage of unsuspecting seniors. To simplify the process, here are two things seniors need to know about Covid-19 scams.
Covid-19 Scam Info on Stimulus Checks
If you or your senior friends and family are looking for their $1200 stimulus check, you need to know how the check is being processed.
Rather than explain it here. I will refer you to 2 great sources of info:
Covid-19 Scam Info on Business Loans
If any seniors are looking for information on business loans as they relate to Covid-19, they may fall victim to scammers that are looking to phish their information, or add fees to their loan process.
To avoid these types of scams, go directly to the SBA (Small Business Association) site. Here is their page on Covid-19 Business and Paycheck Relief Loans.
Other Common Money Scams Seniors Should Know
Now that you know the 3 most common signs of a scam, lets look at a few examples of common money scams that seniors should know, and avoid. There are many scams that seniors may fall victim to.
Here are just a few:
Pay for Shipping Scam- AKA FAKE CHECK SCAM
This scam is one that really targets any online seller, but seniors must be aware of it too.
Although this scam can be a problem on sites like Let Go, Offer Up, or Facebook as well. It is most common when selling an item on Craigslist.
How do you identify the false check scam?
Identifying a Fake Check Scam- The Check
The buyer often immediately wants your address. With your address they will mail you a check. They will often pay for overnight shipping.
Of all of the money scams, this one is the most tempting because they will always send you a check that appears to be real.
Identifying a Fake Check Scam- The Scam
So if they are sending you a check, what is the scam? Well as you may suspect, the check will bounce!
Here’s the catch, the scammer will then ask for you to pay the movers or delivery service. Scammers hope you will send the “movers” the money before the check bounces. They send you a fake check, and you send them real money.
Fake Website Scam- AKA PHISHING
For seniors, this scam is often hard to spot. If often involves an email or a text message which appears to be from a site that the prospect victim uses.
Typically, this scam is not about getting money from you directly. It involves having a victim click on a link they think will lead them to a site they trust. When the victim signs into their account, the information they use is logged by the scammer. They now have your password for that site, and possibly any others you may be using.
Simple solution– Fortunately, if you happen to fall for this scam, there is an easy solution. You will need to change your password anywhere it is used.
To avoid this scam– Never click on the link from an email or text message. Simply go to the site directly yourself, and login.
If you are in doubt about what the URL or website address is. You can Google it. For the most part, Google susses out scams rather quickly. You can generally trust a first page link from a google search.
Send Me Money Scam- AKA GIFT CARD SCAM
The majority of scams that seniors will run into will be a variety of scams that attempt to have seniors send money to the scammer with a gift card or Western Union.
Look, this scam comes in so many forms it is hard to come up with a good name for it.
Rest assured, no legitimate business or government organization will EVER REQUIRE OR EVEN REQUEST money sent through Western Union or by gift card.
Bottom Line of Money Scams That Target Seniors
It’s simple, the best way to prevent seniors from being victimized by money scams is education.
Simply informing them about the types of scams they may face, and how to avoid them, can be a tremendous help.
Of course, scammers are always evolving their techniques. That is why the first part of this article is dedicated to spotting a scam.
If you are a senior, don’t be afraid to be impolite and block, or report, a potential scam. Whether it is a common scam, or one related to Covid-19, there are several commonalities that make them extremely easy to spot.
Reach out to your senior friends and family. Talk to them about the dangers of online scams.
While you are at it, why not forward them this article!?
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