Most Common Elderly Phone Scams

The process of growing older is filled with many challenges. Sadly, one of these challenges includes the threat of being scammed through fraudulent phone calls. In this world of frauds and schemes, here are three common phone scams and some methods for avoiding them.

  1. The ‘Grandparent’ Call

This call takes many forms, but it always pertains to a family member being in danger. Maybe a grandchild has been arrested in another state, someone has been hospitalized and needs medical care, or a loved one is in debt and needs funds immediately.

How to Avoid It: Before doing anything drastic, confirm the events with your loved one – even if they apparently just called you. Remember, scammers can ‘spoof’ phone numbers and mimic caller ID. This is why it’s imperative to check in with family members to confirm the truth. If the situation proves to be a scam, make certain to report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

  1. IRS Impostors

Posing as an IRS member is another major form of phone scam. In fact, according to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, this form of fraud is “the most common complaint seniors reported to [the agency’s] hotline in 2017.”

Typically this involves a call from someone claiming to represent the IRS. They state that there is money owed in the form of back taxes and penalties. The representative then threatens legal action if money is not immediately paid.

How to Avoid It: Hang up! The IRS is a government service, not a loan shark. If there was any financial issue, they would alert you through a bill in the mail. They would not alert you through a threatening phone call!

  1. Lottery Scam

The lottery scam is somewhat self explanatory. A caller informs the recipient that they have won the lottery. In order to collect their winnings, they need to provide personal bank information or wire money to pay for fees. The scammer then either depletes the bank account, or takes the wired money and disappears.

How to Avoid It: Remember, you cannot win the lottery if you did not buy a ticket! No reputable company would follow this practice or charge money for lottery winnings. Even if you did win, any fee or tax would simply be deducted from your earnings. Thus, the best course of action is to hang up the phone and report this incident to the FTC. 

If you’re concerned about your elderly loved one being at home alone, contacting a service, such as home health care can help put your mind at ease.

Davis & Brusca, LLC  is a highly specialized law firm focusing on nursing home /assisted living negligence and serious personal injury from trucking accidents.  Our top trial lawyers have recovered millions of dollars for our clients.