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Top Online Scams Targeting Seniors


Whether you’re a senior citizen yourself or have a parent or other relative you worry about, you’ll want to stay informed of the top online scams targeting seniors.

Unfortunately, seniors are at an increased risk of being targeted by online scammers according to the FBI. In 2020 alone, adults older than 50 lost more than $1.8 billion to online fraud – a number that is likely grossly underreported. Senior citizens are at an increased risk of fraud because older people tend to be more trusting, polite, and of solid financial standing.

Keep track of the top online scams targeting seniors to stay safe – and to avoid becoming yet another victim of these devastating crimes. The perpetrators of these cyber attacks can (and do) target anyone – but senior citizens tend to be the most common victims. Learn more so you can stay protected. 

Stimulus Check Scams

Unheard of just a couple of years ago, these new senior citizen scams capitalize on stimulus checks. They usually come in the form of malicious emails, prompting users to click a link to request their benefit payments. The link then convinces victims to reveal personal information on a falsified payment application or to download malware onto their computers.

Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams

Unfortunately, people older than 65 have accounted for more than 50% of the victims of all sweepstakes fraud since 2018. These scams usually convince victims that they’ve won prizes and need to wire money or purchase gift cards in order to claim them.

Heads up – no legitimate sweepstakes or lottery organization will ever ask you to do this. Don’t pay fees to claim a monetary prize! 

Romance Scams

This scam takes advantage of this simple fact – we’re all looking for love! Romance scams target people of all ages but the most common victims are people aged 70 and older. Here’s how it works.

You meet a love interest on a dating site or app then communicate online without ever actually meeting that person face-to-face. The scammer convinces you to wire funds or send gift cards, using stall tactics to avoid dates.

Although these scams have been around forever, scammers have been able to capitalize on the COVID-19 pandemic by saying they couldn’t meet their “loved one” in person because of quarantine restrictions. Clever – but dangerous. 

Phishing Scams 

Phishing scams are used to steal identities through fake emails and websites. They can take several forms but usually include consist of things like fake virus pop-ups to trick a victim into paying a fee. 

These emails often look like official emails from banks or credit card companies. They can be tough to detect! To avoid them, use an identity theft protection service and remember that no bank will ever ask for personal information through an email. 

What to Do if You Are the Victim of a Scam

If you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, don’t be embarrassed to speak up. You’re not alone – these sorts of things happen all the time. There are people who can help – doing nothing will likely make the situation worse.

Call your local police and the bank, if money has been taken from you. You can also report the fraud to Adult Protective Services and online at the Federal Trade Commission.

If you’re the victim of a scam, it always pays to speak up. Even if you don’t think there’s anything that can be done to help you, you may prevent somebody else from being victimized in the future.