Statistics indicated that American seniors collectively lost $1.7 billion to phone scams in 2021, making them the favorite targets of scammers. Scam calls have been on the rise ever since, forcing the FCC to mandate the deployment of call verification technology in June 2021 to protect seniors from phone scams.
This article covers the following:
- Top 9 scams on elderly
- The best solution to blocking spam calls automatically - the Community Phone spam call-blocker.
Read on to learn more!
What are Elder Scams?
Elder scam are scam or fraudulent calls intended to steal the money or personal information of senior citizens. A standard part is a fraudster pretending to be someone from a company you trust with malicious intent.
Elder scams mainly target seniors as they are unsuspecting and easy to prey on. Statistics indicate that over 90,000 seniors in the U.S. were scammed in 2021 and that the numbers are steadily increasing.
The Top 9 Scams on Elderly
Scams targeting the elderly are growing increasingly innovative. Scammers keep up with what's new, such as the popularity of Zoom, COVID-19, and online shopping, and then act swiftly to devise cheap tricks that are most appropriate for those times.
Here are some of the scams that target the elderly:
1. The Grandparent Scam
The grandparent scam is the most dubious of the top 10 scams targeting seniors. It entails capitalizing on the love, and concern grandparents have for their grandchildren. The scammer tugs at the senior's heart, making their emotions take over their logic.
Grandparent scams often work as follows:
- The scammer contacts an elder/senior and impersonates their grandchild.
- In a frantic tone, this individual explains that they are in danger and needs money for an imminent need, such as overdue rent, fees, or other necessities.
- Out of affection, the grandparent will quickly endeavor to help their grandchild (scammer here). And they get scammed!
2. Government Impersonation Scams
Scammers phone unsuspecting seniors and claim to represent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security Administration, or Medicare.
They may attempt to get personal, sensitive, and banking information from seniors, which they will use for identity theft.
They sometimes "spoof" the actual phone number of a government agency or call from the same zip code using advanced technologies. Spoofing may trick the seniors into believing the caller is genuine.
3. Investment scams
Among scams that target the elderly, the investment scam is severe. Scammers attempt to offer their victims illegal or purported financial instruments at minimal risk and assured return.
They may persuade elders to invest in cryptocurrencies or other assets, promising them easy and multifold returns. In 2021, these investment programs caused more than $239 million in losses to persons aged 60 and above.
4. Health Insurance scams
Medicare is available to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents over 65, making it an excellent target for fraudsters. Scammers often target older adults by impersonating a Medicare agent to obtain personal information from them.
These scammers may even give fictitious services to the elderly in improvised mobile clinics, then charge medicare and pocket the money. Medicare scams mirror the latest medical research developments, such as genetic testing and COVID-19 vaccinations.
5. The Fake Accident Scam
A scammer will attempt to impersonate a relative or loved one of the elderly, claiming that they are in an accident and need emergency financial support in the hospital.
They may have information on the senior's family member, but any request for money is a hoax. Sometimes the caller claims to be a lawyer, the police, or a doctor. These scammers persuade seniors to help by not giving them time to think.
6. Technical Support Calls
The technical support scam targets the elderly since they are unfamiliar with technology. The scammer will pose as a representative of a well-known corporation, such as Apple or Microsoft.
They will claim a problem with the senior's Windows or Office license and offer to help them. They'll want to access their P.C. and may install harmful software on their device to steal all of their data.
7. Lottery Scams
Many people are familiar with lottery fraud. Scammers often target elders, telling them they have won a lottery and asking them to supply their bank details so that they may send money. However, the senior will have to spend hundreds of dollars to cover alleged taxes and processing costs.
8. Fake Charity Appeals
Many elderly are besieged with bogus charity solicitations. Scammers pretend to be from an NGO striving to save lives, especially during or after a natural disaster.
The scammers rely on the goodwill of the elderly who wish to help. It is better to avoid giving money to unwanted callers to prevent handing money to a criminal. Instead, conduct your study to choose a trustworthy philanthropic organization.
9. Bank Fraud Calls
Crooks will sometimes pose as good guys. A scammer may pose as a bank official, alerting you to probable fraud in your bank account.
As the conversation continues, they will attempt to obtain your financial information, such as your account number, passwords, and other sensitive information. Do not give this data to anyone who calls you to avoid falling for such a scam. You can hang up.
How Can You Stop Getting Spam Calls?
Protect yourself or a loved senior from scam calls with the following:
1. Get Community Phone's Spam Call Blocking
Community Phone offers home phone service for seniors with automatic spam-call blocking. It is the most recommended option for seniors, and customers who got this feature for their loved ones could not stop praising it.
Stop 99% of spam calls automatically with the powerful spam call-blocking feature. Here's how it works:
- Your phone won't ring immediately when someone calls your Community Phone number. A recorded message tells the caller to "Press 1 to connect."
- Robocalls detect when the recipient picks up and talks on the phone.
- The recording starts as soon as they hear something other than the sound of the phone ringing.
- Since robocalls cannot press buttons, the Community Phone spam call-blocker flags the call, disconnects it, and blocks the number from reaching you ever again.
- If the caller follows the instructions and the phone rings, let the call reach voicemail if it is from an unidentified number. After your due diligence, you can decide if you want to return the call.
Optional Whitelisting Service
This optional service from Community Phone ensures that you receive calls only from numbers known to you. Here's how it works:
- Call Community Phone customer care at 866-407-8427.
- Give the rep a list of the phone numbers you want to accept calls from.
- Community Phone will whitelist these numbers for you in the backend.
- Your phone will only allow calls from these numbers to pass through.
- Calls from other numbers would be blocked.
This service is convenient for unsuspecting elders not familiar with technology, scams, and people with dementia and other ailments.
2. Register on the National Do Not Call Registry
Registering your phone number on the National Do Not Call list will help you stop receiving calls from credit card companies or salespeople.
3. Use the *60 Star Code.
The *60# is the least recommended option for seniors as it blocks unwanted numbers one by one only after receiving the call. Here's how you can block the number using the star code:
- Pick up the receiver.
- Dial *60#
- Follow the instructions and dial the number you want to block.
- Follow the same process to block another number.
How do I stop getting so many spam calls?
- Get the Community Phone spam call-blocker services to automatically stop 99% of unwanted calls.
- You can also register your phone number on the NDNC list by calling 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY) by calling them from the number you are getting spam calls on.
- You can register at donotcall.gov too.
- Block the unwanted numbers using *60#, but this is manual, exhausting, and limited by your phone model.
Why am I suddenly getting so many more spam calls?
You may suddenly get more spam calls because someone sold your number to scammers. Always report fraudulent calls to the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.
What happens if you call back a spam number?
If you call a spam number back:
- It may connect you to a high-cost international line, as many numbers are "spoofed."
- You will be charged for the phone call.
- And the fraudster will profit.
It is not advisable to call back a spam number; report it and block it.
Should I answer spam calls?
No, you should not answer spam calls. Let the call go to voicemail if it is from an unidentified number.
The majority of spam callers "spoof" the phone number. The number's caller I.D. may appear local and familiar to you, but it would be spam from across the world.
Answering the phone and returning spam calls alerts the fraudster that your phone is active, marking you as the "target" and exposing you to subsequent scams.
What are spam calls trying to do?
A spam call is where someone is trying to harm you by stealing your money or personal information. Scammers try to -
- Steal money
- Pretend to be someone else, mostly from legitimate companies you trust
- Get sensitive information such as your bank account details, credit card details, etc.
Seniors must be cautious when dealing with scammers, as they are vulnerable to phone scams. The best way to stop unwanted calls is to get the Community Phone spam call-blocker to block 99% of spam calls automatically.
The next best option is never to engage spammers and fraudsters. Hang up on them, or allow calls from unidentified numbers to go to voicemail.