Scams Targeting the Elderly and the Disabled

It’s no secret that scammers target the elderly and disabled. They know these individuals are often more vulnerable to their schemes, so they prey on their naivety and good nature. 

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself or your loved one from becoming a victim of fraud. 

Let’s look at some of the most common scams – and some helpful tips for staying safe online and avoiding scams. 

What Are Common Scams That Target Elderly Individuals?

As you get older, you probably know that life is full of surprises.

Unfortunately, some of those surprises are scams. Whether it’s a catfishing scam or a lottery scam, there are plenty of ways that scammers target elderly individuals. Let’s take a look at some of the most common “senior scams” targeting the elderly population. 

Catfishing Scams

Remember when your grandpa told you about how he met grandma? Well, catfishing scams don’t usually have such happy endings. In these scams, scammers create fake online profiles in order to trick unsuspecting victims into sending them money or personal information. Be on the lookout for any suspicious online activity and never send money to someone you haven’t met in person. 

Telemarketing or Mail Fraud

This type of scam is especially dangerous because it involves a real person on the other end of the line or an official-looking letter in the mail. Telemarketers usually promise large sums of money if you “invest” with them or buy their product. However, once they have your payment information, they disappear without a trace. 

Similarly, mail fraud often involves letters claiming that you won a prize and asking for your personal information in order to collect it—don’t fall for it! 

Social Security Scams

Unfortunately, many scammers target Social Security numbers because they provide access to people’s entire lives—from bank accounts to birth certificates and beyond. Social Security scams occur when someone calls claiming to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

The caller will ask for your Social Security number as well as other personal information—this is a surefire sign that something fishy is going on! Hang up and contact the SSA directly if this happens to you (or anyone else). 

Lottery Scams

This one is pretty self-explanatory; scammers will call claiming that you won the lottery and ask for banking details so they can transfer your winnings over. Of course, there’s no such thing as free money—so just hang up and move on with your day!

Home Repair Scams

No one likes dealing with home repairs but unfortunately it comes with being an adult homeowner (or renter!). Home repair scammers will offer their services at an attractive price only to do shoddy work and demand more money before leaving the job unfinished—which leaves homeowners stuck between paying more for bad work or starting from scratch again. 

Avoid these headaches by doing thorough research before hiring any contractors and always follow up with references before signing any contracts!  

What Are Common Scams That Target Individuals With Disabilities?

For individuals with disabilities, scams can be particularly tricky to spot. Unfortunately, scammers prey on vulnerable people, and those with disabilities are no exception. Fortunately, there are a few key scams that those with disabilities should watch out for and keep in mind when engaging online or offline. 

Let’s discuss the four most common scams targeting those with disabilities. 

Internet Scams

The internet is full of scammers, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that those with disabilities are targets. These scammers will often pose as “helpful” companies offering assistance at a price or even free services. If you find yourself getting contacted by an unfamiliar company offering services related to your disability, make sure to do some research before providing any personal information. 

Job Scams 

Those with disabilities often face discrimination when looking for employment, so job scams can be especially damaging. The scammer will offer a job opportunity that sounds too good to be true—and usually is—in exchange for money upfront or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. 

Always proceed with caution when applying for jobs online or through email and be aware of any red flags like requests for payment before hiring or suspiciously vague descriptions about the job itself. 

Door-to-Door Scams

Door-to-door scams have been around since the dawn of time and they seem to never go away! These scammers will show up at your home unannounced and try to convince you into buying products or services that are either overpriced or completely unnecessary in the first place. Be firm with these types of scammers; if they don’t leave immediately, call the police! 

Using the Disabled for Bogus Fundraising Scams

This type of scam is particularly heinous because it preys on people’s compassion towards those with disabilities. The scammer will use disabled people as props in order to raise money under false pretenses (often claiming the money raised will go towards medical care or treatments). Always make sure you do your research before giving any donations; most charity organizations are legitimate but there are always bad apples out there who just want your money! 

How to Prevent Scams

It’s important to remember that scammers often target the elderly and disabled because they know these individuals are more vulnerable than others. But by following these tips, you can help protect yourself (or your loved ones) from becoming victims of fraud and scams online and off.

Be Wary of Unsolicited Calls or Emails 

One of the most common tactics used by scammers is to call or email someone with an offer that sounds too good to be true. 

These offers may involve investment opportunities, free trips, or even lottery winnings! It’s important to remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Never give out personal information such as bank account numbers or Social Security numbers in response to unsolicited calls or emails like this. 

Don’t Trust Anyone Who Claims To Be From The Government 

Scammers often pose as representatives of the government in order to gain access to personal information. 

If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, Social Security Administration, or any other government agency, do not give them any information. The government will never ask for sensitive data over the phone; instead, they will mail you a letter if they need something from you. 

Set Up Fraud Alerts on Your Credit Card Accounts 

Many credit card companies offer fraud alerts that can help protect your accounts against scam activity. These alerts let you know if there is any suspicious activity on your account so you can take action quickly if needed. 

You can also set up automatic text message notifications for every time there is a transaction made on your account so you have an extra layer of protection against identity theft and fraudulent charges.  

Do Your Research 

The easiest way to spot a scam is to do your research beforehand. If someone claims they are offering you a service or product, do some digging online first. It’s always better to be safe than sorry! Also, if the person has reached out via email or text, try to locate their contact information online as well. If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of their offer or if you can’t find any information online, it’s best to assume it’s a scam and move on.   

Be Wary of Upfront Payment Requests 

One surefire sign of a scammer is if they ask for payment upfront without delivering anything in return first. Legitimate services will typically provide an initial consultation or sample of the product or service they are offering before asking for payment. Be wary of anyone who asks for payment before delivering anything in return—this is usually an indication that you should avoid getting involved with them altogether. 

What to Do if You Find You’ve Been the Victim of a Scam

It’s not a fun feeling when you realize that you’ve been scammed. Whether it was a click-bait email, a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, or a “too-good-to-be-true” investment opportunity, being scammed is an experience no one wants to have. But what do you do once you realize that you have been scammed? 

Trust Your Gut 

If something feels off about an offer or request, trust your gut instinct and avoid getting involved in any transaction with that person. Oftentimes our gut instinct is telling us things our conscious mind hasn’t yet picked up on yet—so pay attention! The most important thing is to remain vigilant when dealing with strangers who reach out with offers that seem too good to be true; chances are they probably are. 

Take Action

Depending on the type of scam that has been perpetrated against you, there are different steps that can be taken. First, report the scam to the appropriate authorities—whether that is filing a police report or reporting the scam to the FTC—and then take steps to protect yourself from future scams by changing passwords, opting out of emails and texts from unknown sources, etc. 

Seek Help

If the amount lost in the scam is significant enough, you may want to consider hiring an attorney or financial advisor who specializes in dealing with fraud cases like yours. They will be able to advise you on how best to proceed and may even be able to help recover some of your losses through legal action or other means depending on the circumstances of your particular case. 

Final Thoughts

Scams targeting the elderly and disabled are unfortunately all too common—but by educating ourselves about the different types of schemes out there and learning how to spot them before they become a problem, we can help protect our families and friends from falling victim to these unscrupulous criminals. 

With proper vigilance and awareness, we can make sure that everyone is safe from scammers who would otherwise try to take advantage of vulnerable populations.

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