By: Mei Kameda, Program Coordinator, Healthy Living
When I think about senior scams, my initial thought is, “who has the audacity to trick an older adult? What kind of heartless individual would do that?” It’s surprising how many people actually do that for a living. There are many different types of scams that target older adults.
Today, I would like to introduce the THREE R’s of Senior Scams: which are to Recognize Fraud, Refuse Fraud, and Report Fraud.1
We certainly do not want to get caught in a “fraud” and being able to recognize common scams will decrease the likelihood. Below are some examples of potential frauds:
The Grandparent Scam
- Scammers will place a call to an older adult and when the phone is picked up, they will say something such as, “Hi grandma, do you know who this is? It’s your grandkid Sam.” The scammer establishes a fake identity to make him/herself seem like someone whom the older adult loves and trusts. Once the scammer is “in” with the game, they will usually ask for money to solve the “grandchild’s” financial problem. Scammers may also say something like “Please don’t tell mom or dad, they would get mad at me for asking you” – so the older adult will be less likely to tell someone.
- More older adults are becoming tech savvy, which is a wonderful thing. However, some older adults may be an easy target for automated internet scams via web pages or emails. There may be a pop-up page that the older adult clicks and ends up downloading a virus. Or they may receive an email that looks legitimate, such as from a “bank” or “insurance company,” but is actually a scam.
- I’ve had experience with the email scams, so it’s not just older adults who are targeted. A few years ago, I received an email from what I thought was my primary bank – but the offer seemed too good to be true. Still, my cautious self decided to ask the bank if this was credible and it turns out that it wasn’t. What was scary to me was that the scammers used a very similar logo of the bank but the only difference was a thin line on the logo which did not exist on the bank’s real logo. You can see how that can be deceiving.
- This type of fraud can be done face-to-face, through the internet, or on the phone. The purpose of this fraud is to trick you into thinking that you will be donating to a legitimate cause or charity. Scammers will pretend to be a part of fake charities and try to mooch money from you – often times, the scams involve recent natural disasters.
- After the 2011 tsunami in Japan, there were many incidents where scammers created “fake” charities and kept all the donations to themselves.
Once you are able to recognize the fraud or scam, you now have the ability to refuse fraud. Refusing fraud means that you are saying “no” to becoming the victim in this situation. What’s important to remember is to just ask yourself, “does this seem right?” before making a decision.
Here are some steps adapted from AARP on how to refuse fraud:
- Never provide your private information (i.e. Social Security number, bank account number, birth date, etc.) to anyone who contacts you unsolicited.
- Never send a check or wire money to anyone who contacts you if you do not know them. If you receive an unwanted call, mail or email, simply DO NOT RESPOND.
- Sign up for the Federal Do Not Call List. Visit their website at donotcall.gov to submit your phone number which will reduce the amount of telemarketing phone calls. (I DID!)
the last step is to report scams. This will not only help you but others who are victims of a fraud or scam. When you report a fraud, please provide as many details as possible so that the appropriate parties can work on shutting the scammers down.
If you wish to report a fraud, please contact AARP’s ElderWatch at 1-800-222-444, option 2, or visit their website at www.aarpelderwatch.org
Upcoming Vitality Forums in Our Community
Vitality Forums are one day wellness promotion/health education programs and workshops that support healthy lifestyles and vitality across the lifespan.
To see an overview of Vitality Forums offered by Keiro, please check our website here.
Just Say No to Senior Scam! (Presented in ENGLISH and JAPANESE)
Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple (815 E. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90025)
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
For more information or questions, please contact Mei Kameda at 213.873.5710 or email@example.com
About the Author:
Mei Kameda is the Program Coordinator at Keiro. She graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health Science (option in Community Health Education) and a minor in Communication Studies. In her spare time, Mei enjoys going on runs, baking, and volunteering which are a few of the many activities that allow her to live her life on purpose.
The material presented on this site is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the opinions of Keiro, or its contributors. Readers should consult appropriate health, legal, or financial professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. Full disclaimer