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Avoid Scams: Elder Fraud

Elderly populations are disproportionately targeted by various types of financial fraud schemes, including confidence scams (e.g. romance, investment), online sales and auction fraud, life insurance fraud, tech support scams, “grandparent” and government impersonation phone call scams, sweepstakes / lottery scams, and email extortion scams, among others. Regardless of the type of elder fraud scam, the vast majority of the situations involve criminals gaining the trust of victims or attempting to scare victims, ultimately swindling the victims into transferring funds or assets into the control of the scammers. 

 

How to Protect Yourself

 

 

  • Review the Secret Service’s guidance on  Common Cybersecurity Practices

  • Be wary of unsolicited communications via phone, text, email, online, etc. from unknown persons or businesses, regardless of the nature of the communications.

  • Note that government agencies will never call you on the phone to threaten you or your loved ones with arrest or legal action if you do not agree to remit payment for things debt collections, release from jail, or immigration status issues. Official notification from U.S. government agencies will almost always initially involve an official letter sent via regular mail.

  • Never provide personally identifiable information (PII), online passwords, or bank access codes to other persons or businesses that you have not yet verified as being legitimate.

  • Keep the operating systems of all computers and electronic devices up-to-date and ensure anti-virus and security tools are installed.

  • Enable pop-up blockers on your Internet browser and ignore any seemingly random pop-up messages or notifications you may receive while browsing the Internet. When in doubt, utilize your anti-virus software to scan for vulnerabilities instead of clicking on any pop-ups.

  • Never click on email attachments or links from unknown persons or businesses.

  • Immediately cease contact with any individuals you suspect are attempting to swindle you.

  • Be wary of social media accounts or pages that have limited numbers of “followers,” use poor grammar and punctuation, or provide links to alleged government websites that do not use the .gov domain or alleged investment opportunities that involve cryptocurrency. 

 

Elder Victim Advocacy Resources 

If you suspect you are a victim of elder fraud, contact your local Secret Service field office.