SENIOR SCAMS IN 2021

Sherry McCoy

Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD

is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook . For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or nbynews@juno.com.

SENIOR SCAMS IN 2021

Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program

 

Well, here we are in December 2021! The winter holidays have arrived and 2021 is coming to an end.  Soon, we’ll begin a new year – 2022.  Happy Holidays!  As we finish one year and prepare to begin another, let’s reflect on what we’ve learned about scams that target seniors and how best to avoid being ripped off by con artists who dream of stealing our hard-earned cash, our property, our identity, and our well-being. The more we know about scams that target seniors and how best to avoid them — the better off we are. Awareness of all these things enhances our consciousness.  And, our consciousness, it turns out, is one of our greatest assets in combatting fraud. Here are some key points to remember.

 

SENIOR SCAMS ARE ON THE RISE – Statistics show that scams against seniors are increasing. Here’s what the Federal Trade Commission had to say about this in their Annual Report to Congress on Protecting Older Adults (1).

  • In 2019, as in prior years, older adults (aged 60 and older) were less likely than younger adults (aged 20 to 59) to report losing money to fraud, but reported much higher individual dollar losses. In fact, peopleaged 80 and older reported losing the most, with a median individual reported loss of $1,600.
  • Although they were less likely to report falling victim to fraud overall, adults aged 60 and older were more likely to report losing money to certain specific types of scams. They were nearly six times more likely to report losing money to tech support scams than younger consumers, according to the report, and were three times more likely to report losses due to prize, sweepstakes, and lottery scams. They were also more than twice as likely as younger adults to report losses due to impostor fraud where someone was impersonating a friend or family member.
  • The most frequent type of fraud reported by older adults was online shopping scams, which mirrored a significant increase in that type of scam reported in the early months of the pandemic across all age groups.
  • Older adults reported losing the most money to romance scams, with $84 million in reported losses, followed by government imposter scams at $61 million, and prizes, sweepstakes, and lottery scams at $51 million.

THE IMPORTANCE OF REPORTING SCAMS — If you are the target or victim of a scam, one of the most powerful actions you can take is to REPORT the scam. This may seem strange or even scary, but it’s important. First and foremost, reporting scams helps authorities gather data and keep track of which scams are most prevalent. Reporting a scam provides key information and helps authorities stop scammers in their tracks! Sadly, many people don’t believe reporting a scam will make a difference, so they remain silent. But nothing could be further from the truth.  If someone steals your car or breaks into your home and steals valuables, you wouldn’t hesitate to report it to the police. It would be the first thing you’d do to rectify the situation. The same should be true if you’ve been the victim of a grandparents’ scam, a romance scam, a Covid vaccine scam, or any other sort of fraudulent scheme.  When someone knowingly lies to you and tricks you into giving them money for a product or service that is non-existent – that is a crime.  Have the courage to stand up for yourself and report the scam. That action alone will go a long way toward bringing criminals to justice.

 

RED FLAGS – Be on the lookout for “red flags” when you’re engaging in any business transaction. Here are some common “red flags” that indicate a business is not on the up-and-up.

a) If the only way to purchase a product or service is via cryptocurrency, gift cards or wiring cash – walk away or hang up the phone. It’s a scam!
b) If the salesperson on an unsolicited phone call tries to pressure or “bully” you into buying or investing in something right away, this is a red flag! Legitimate businesses won’t try to strong-arm you to buy their products.
c) If the text message or email says you’ve won a “free” prize, but all you have to do to claim your prize, is pay delivery fees, mailing and handling charges, it’s a scam! It’s obviously not “free” if you have to pay anything!
d) If you receive a phone call, text message or email from someone claiming to represent the IRS or Social Security and demanding you provide them with personal information, or you’ll be arrested, or your Social Security funds will be cut off – this is a scam! Neither the IRS nor the Social Security Administration operate this way. Just hang up!
e)If you receive an email or text message with a lot of “scammer grammar” in it, i.e., it’s poorly written with misspelled words and incomplete sentences, etc., it is likely a scam. Delete the message and do not click on any links or call any phone numbers in the messages. Doing so could lead to identity theft or allow a scammer to download malware on your computer.
EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT SCAMS – Finally, one of the most important things we can do for ourselves in the battle against senior fraud, is to educate ourselves.  According to AARP, some of the top scams targeting seniors this year include (but are not limited to): Covid vaccination card scams, online romance scams, Medicare card scams, and Social Security scams. (2) I wrote about many of these scams this year in this NOT BORN YESTERDAY column. (See the list below.) It is my sincere hope that the information in these articles will help you steer clear of fraud, or help you recover if you have been the victim of a scam. Please feel free to peruse these articles at your leisure. I welcome your comments and wish you all the best in the coming year.  Stay safe and Happy Holidays!

 

NBY January 2021 – “Beware Covid-19 Vaccine Scams” — https://nbynews.com/beware-covid-19-vaccine-scams/

NBY February 2021 – “Beware of Catfishing Scams” — https://nbynews.com/beware-of-catfishing-scams/

NBY March 2021 – “IRS’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ Tax Scams” — https://nbynews.com/irss-dirty-dozen-tax-scams/

NBY April 2021 – “Work at Home Scams” — https://nbynews.com/work-at-home-scams/

NBY May 2021 – “The Covid Vaccine Survey Scams” — https://nbynews.com/the-covid-vaccine-survey-scam/

NBY June 2021 – “Vacation Scams During the Pandemic” — https://nbynews.com/home-title-fraud/

NBY July 2021 – “Home Title Fraud” — https://nbynews.com/home-title-fraud/

NBY August 2021 – “Scams During the Pandemic – A Mini-Review” — https://nbynews.com/scams-during-the-pandemic-a-mini-review/

NBY September 2021 – “Recent Scam Statistics & Seniors” — https://nbynews.com/recent-scam-statistics-seniors/

NBY October 2021 – “Emotional Recovery in the Aftermath of a Scam” — https://nbynews.com/emotional-recovery-in-the-aftermath-of-a-scam/

NBY November 2021 – “Get Ready for the Holiday Scams” — https://nbynews.com/get-ready-for-the-holiday-scams/

 

REFERENCES

(1) https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/protecting-older-consumers-2019-2020-report-federal-trade-commission/p144400_protecting_older_adults_report_2020.pdf

(2) https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2021/schemes-targeting-older-adults.html
WHERE TO REPORT SCAMS

If you believe you have been the target or victim of a of a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1.  If you have questions about Medicare fraud / abuse or believe you have been the victim of Medicare fraud, contact the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP*) at 1-855-613-7080.  If you feel you have been the target or victim of a scam, you may also report it to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.

 

STOP SENIOR SCAMS ACTING PROGRAM CONTINUES VIRTUAL PROGRAMMING

SSSAP continues virtual programs and we are now booking in-person programs for 2022.  Please contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com for more info, or if your organization would like to host our program.

 

STOP SENIOR SCAMS℠ ACTING PROGRAM on YOUTUBE

Please go to the SSSAP YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjFjb-WPPr8KAXq1dlu1EvA to see our new videos.  If you subscribe (free of charge), you will be notified when new videos are released.  Together we can Stop Senior Scams!  Here are links to two of our most recent videos: “The Top Senior Scams with SSSAP” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp097g7hTUg, and “Robocalls, Mail Fraud and Merlin with SSSAP” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA3noym9JPo&t=186s.

Remember:  You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!

Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles.  Follow SSSAP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSAP2016/?fref=ts.  For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com.  Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or nbynews@juno.com.

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