In our previous blog, we highlighted the skyrocketing incidence of scams designed to defraud the elderly. In this blog, we examine some of the more common scams, as well as newer ones that emerged in the past year. Hopefully, by knowing what to look for, you and your loved ones will be less vulnerable to becoming a victim of this type of scam.
1. The Grandparent Scam
The caller pretends to be a grandchild who has been involved in an accident, kidnapping or legal trouble and needs money immediately. Typically the caller is asking for a ransom or bond money to be paid in the form of gift cards or a wire transfer.
2. Social Security Number Scam
Scammers claim to represent the Social Security Administration which has linked your social security number to an out-of-state crime. They often threaten to freeze your assets unless you all a number or send money.
3. Natural Disaster Fund
Scammers impersonate a charity, claiming to be raising money for victims of a recent natural disaster in order to get money or private information.
4. IRS Spoof
Modern technology allows scammers to mimic the number of the IRS so that Caller ID identifies the caller as someone from the IRS/ they may threaten to arrest you or take legal action if back taxes aren't paid immediately.
5. Durable Medical Goods Scam
You may be told you are eligible to get a back brace or comparable medical product free of charge because Medicare will pay for it. The scammers will try to trick you into providing personal information which can be accessed at a later date without your approval.
6. Tech Support Scam
One of the oldest scams, this one involves a phone call or a pop-up ad on your computer that says there is a virus or your computer will be frozen if you don't pay money.
7. Sweepstakes Scam
Another oldie but goodie is the call that claims you've won some type of sweepstakes but need to pay the taxes upfront, usually in the form of gift cards, before being able to collect your winnings.
8. DNA Testing Scam
People camp outside of stores or go door-to-door telling seniors they are eligible for a free cancer screening if they provide a cheek swab with their DNA, along with a photo of their driver's license and Medicare card. Now they've got your personal information and your DNA!
9. Romance Scam
Certainly not new, this scam typically involves someone who you met online who pretends to have a romantic interest in order to secure money or other gifts.
10. Timeshare Resale Scam
Recognizing that many people travel less as they age, a con artist may pretend to have a buyer for your timeshare who is offering an outrageous amount of money for your property. After a contract is signed with the make-believe buyer, the scammer requests that fees, taxes and legal costs must be paid upfront through wire transfers.
There are certainly other types of scams, but these represent some of the most commonly reported. In our next blog, we will outline warning signs, suggested do's and don'ts, and actions you should take if you suspect fraud.
In general terms, however, always be wary if your are asked to pay for something with gift cards, a wire transfer, prepaid debit card or bitcoin; if you're told not to tell any friends or relatives about the conversation; if you're asked to provide personal information by someone you don't know; or if you're pressured to act immediately.
The information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither Cortland Bank or its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering you any tax, accounting or legal advice.