Top 10 Senior Scams

Top 10 Senior Scams

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  Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or

“Top 10 Senior Scams”
Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD, Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program*

It’s hard to believe, but here we are in May 2018!  Flowers are blooming everywhere!  Of course, sadly, the scammers will be “blooming” everywhere as well!  So, let’s do our homework and stay informed by taking a good look at some of the most prominent scams that target seniors.  According to “Fighting Fraud,” an e-book published this year by the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, there are 10 top scams that target our nation’s seniors (see list below).  Many thanks to Senator Susan M. Collins, Chairperson, and Senator Robert P. Casey, Ranking Member, of the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging for their hard work and dedication in creating this important document.  Please call the Committee’s toll-free hotline at 855-303-9470 if you have been a scam target or victim.  For more detailed info and to download a copy of “Fighting Fraud,” go to


#1 – IRS impersonation scams – Someone phones and claims to be a representative of the IRS; the fraudster tells you that you owe back taxes and that if you don’t pay up right away, your property could be confiscated and you will be thrown in jail.  Please note – the IRS does not make house calls!  This was the most frequently reported scam over the last 3 years to the Committee’s fraud hotline!

#2 – Robocalls and unsolicited phone calls – Scammers can change the caller ID to appear as if they are calling from a bank, a credit card company, etc.  The fraudsters may say there’s a problem with your account and they need you to verify personal information, like your Social Security Number, passwords, mother’s maiden name, etc.  Once they have that info, they can use it to steal your identity.  Hang up and report the call to your bank or credit card company, etc.

#3 – Sweepstakes scams / Jamacian lottery scam – You receive a letter in the mail, or get a phone call, stating that you are the winner of a lottery or sweepstakes, and that all you have to do is send a small processing fee and your prize will be delivered to you ASAP!  Don’t believe it!  It’s a lie.

#4 – “Can you hear me?” scams – You answer the phone and the scammer on the other end of the line says “Can you hear me?”  If you say “Yes,” the caller might just hang up, leaving you to wonder what was going on.  Well, what was going on is that the scammer may have recorded your voice in order to obtain a Voice Signature that then can be used to authorize credit card purchases, etc., without your real consent.

#5 – Grandparent scams – We’re all probably familiar with this scam by now.  It’s when someone calls to say your grandchild is in trouble – e.g., in jail in Spain for DUI, and needs you to wire money for bail right away.  The scammer is hoping you’ll be frightened and not think too much before you send them your money.  It’s a good idea to set up some “code words” with your grandchildren right now.  Then, if you should ever receive a call like this, and the caller doesn’t know the “code word” you can be sure it’s a scam!

#6 – Computer tech support scam – A scammer calls and pretends to be calling from Microsoft, Apple, or Dell, and tells you that your computer has been infected with a virus and if you don’t let them fix the situation right away (by accessing your computer remotely), you will lose all the data on your computer!  Unfortunately, this scam has been very successful.

#7 – Romance scams – More and more seniors have turned to online dating.  Con artists prey on the vulnerability and loneliness of seniors and lure them into fictitious cyber-relationships.  After months of “romantic” dialogue, the scammer then asks for a favor, usually involving the loan of money for a supposed family emergency, etc.  Sadly, the end result is always the same: heartbreak and loss of financial resources.

#8 – Elder financial abuse – These scams refer to the “illegal or improper use of an older adult’s funds, property, or assets.”  Perpetrators can include family members, home care workers, financial advisors, legal guardians or strangers via internet, phone or mail scams.

#9 – Identity theft – Identity thieves can steal your bank account, credit card, Medicare number, or Social Security  information, and make your life miserable.  Guard your personal information.  Keep it in a secure place.

#10 – Government grant scam – A common variation of the government grant scam is when you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from the “Federal Grants Administration” or the “Federal Grants Department.”  The problem is, neither of these agencies exist!


If you feel you have been the target or victim of a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or  And then — Pass It On!  If you have questions about Medicare fraud/abuse, or have been the victim of Medicare fraud contact the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP*) at 1-855-613-7080.

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.  SSSAP will be performing (free of charge) at the Manhattan Beach Library on May 15 from 1:30-3; and Duarte Senior Center on May 18 from 1-2.  Follow SSSAP on Facebook at  For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at  Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or

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