Every year, millions of Americans fall victim to a variety of scams, such as identity theft and tax refund scams. Seniors are especially at risk, being twice as vulnerable as other age groups. The Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force has provided the following list of common elder fraud threats. If you are reporting an incident of elder fraud, try using the scheme names listed below to keep everyone on the same page.
Social Security Administration Impostor Scam
These scammers will call and pose as the Social Security Administration. They will say that your Social Security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity or because it has been involved in a crime. They will ask you to confirm your Social Security number or may say you need to store your money on gift cards for safekeeping. They may say your accounts will be seized or frozen if you don't act quickly. These scammers use ID spoofing to make it look like the Social Security Administration is calling. They often use robocalls so you might hear something like "press 1 to speak to a government support representative." With these scams, perpetrators convince people to reveal their Social Security numbers or to send money.
Tech Support Scam
In this scam, impostors will call and claim to be computer technicians with a well-known company. They might use pop-up messages online to warn about non-existent computer problems. The scammer will claim they have detected viruses, malware, or hacking attempts on your computer. They pretend to be tech support and ask you for remote access to your computer. Then, they diagnose a non-existent problem and ask you to pay for their services. Even worse, if you make a payment, the scammers will often call back and offer a refund. They will claim to send refund money to your bank account but then say that too much money was refunded. They will ask you to send payments (like gift cards) to reimburse the tech support company for its over-refund. Sadly, people have lost hundreds or thousands of dollars to this scheme.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
Fake telemarketers in Jamaica and other countries will call you and say you've won a sweepstakes or foreign lottery. Often the caller will say he is a lawyer, customs official, or lottery representative. They may say you've won vacations, cars, or thousands of dollars. However, the scammer will tell you to pay fees for shipping, insurance, customs duties, or taxes before you can claim your prize. People have paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for a prize they never receive. In this scheme, people are often re-victimized.
Source: U.S. Embassy in Jamaica
IRS Impostor Scam
IRS Impostor Scams are aggressive phone scams that target taxpayers. The caller will claim to be an employee of the IRS and use fake IRS identification badge numbers. They will say you owe money to the IRS and must pay through wire transfer or stored value card like a gift card. If you refuse to cooperate, they will threaten you with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a business or driver's license. It is important to know that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message, or social media channels to request personal or financial information. The IRS will not demand immediate payment or threaten you.
Source: Internal Revenue Services
Scammers will use dating sites, social networking sites, and chat rooms to meet potential victims. They will create fake profiles and have online relationships. They then try to convince you to send money in the name of love. Some scammers will even make wedding plans before disappearing with your money. If an online love interest is asking you for money, it is almost always a scam artist. In other cases, the perpetrator may convince you to receive payments or goods like technology equipment that has been illegal obtained. They will ask you to forward those payments or goods to the perpetrator.
Source: Federal Trade Commission