Identity Theft Protection for Seniors
Phone scams are a serious and widespread problem that affects millions of Americans every year. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), phone scams were the most common type of fraud reported by consumers in 2020, with over 2.2 million reports filed by victims. Phone scams can have devastating consequences for your personal and financial security,and include losing money, becoming victims of identity theft, compromising your devices or accounts, and even endangering your health or safety.
Seniors are especially vulnerable to phone scams. This is because they are more likely to answer unknown calls, trust the caller’s authority or credibility, and fall for emotional or urgent appeals.. According to the FTC, seniors aged 60 and over reported losing more than $500 million to phone scams in 2020, with a median loss of $1,250. This is nearly four times higher than the median loss reported by people in their 20s.
In this article, we will explain how to spot and stop phone scams targeting seniors. We will also provide some tips on how to use the best identity theft protection services for seniors to protect your identity from phone scams and other forms of fraud. By the end of this article, you will know how to recognize, avoid, and report phone scams targeting seniors.
What Are Phone Scams and How Do They Work?
Phone scams are fraudulent or deceptive calls that attempt to trick or coerce the recipient into giving money, personal information, or access to their devices or accounts. Phone scams can involve different types of calls, such as:
are calls made by a real person who pretends to be someone else, such as a government official, law enforcement officer, tech support agent, charity worker, family member, a romantic partner just to name a few.
are automated calls that use a recorded message or a voice synthesizer to deliver a pre-recorded script or a menu of options. Robocalls may claim to be from legitimate organizations, such as banks, credit card companies, health care providers, etc., or from fraudulent ones, such as fake lottery or sweepstakes companies, fake debt collectors, fake warranty companies just to name a few.
are those that use a technique called caller ID spoofing to disguise the real number or name of the caller. Spoofed calls may appear to be from local numbers, familiar numbers, or toll-free numbers to increase the chances of being answered.
Phone scammers use several techniques in order to manipulate or persuade the individual to believe in the caller’s legitimacy. Some of the methods scammers use include the following:
Phone scammers may threaten you with legal consequences, arrest warrants, fines, lawsuits, deportation, account suspension, service termination, or other methods depending on what their scheme is. They want to scare you into complying with their demands.
Another method phone scammers may use involves the creation of a sense of urgency or emergency by claiming you have a limited time to act or something bad will happen to you.
The scammers are ingenious and may impersonate someone who has authority or credibility over you, such as a government official, law enforcement officer, tech support agent, bank representative, or any other person in a place of authority, and use their title or badge number to convince you they are the representatives they claim to be.
They may attempt to appeal to your emotions or compassion by pretending to be someone who needs your help or support. This could be a family member in trouble, a charity worker in need of donations, a romantic partner in distress, just to give a few examples. The scammer ask for money or personal information.
Greed is a driving factor, and phone scammers may entice you with offers that are too good to be true. This could be any number of things such as winning a lottery or sweepstakes, receiving an inheritance or a refund, getting a low-interest loan or a grant, among other things. They may ask you for money or personal information to claim your prize or benefit.
Types of Phone Scams Targeting Seniors
Phone scams targeting seniors may involve various topics that are of interest or concern to them. Some of the topics can include health care, taxes, social security, lottery, or charity, just to name a few.These scams directed toward seniors can have different impacts on them depending on the type of scam, and the amount of money or information involved. The projected impacts could include losing money, becoming victims of identity theft, compromising their devices or accounts, etc. There are several more common types of scams that affect seniors.
are those where the caller claims to be from Medicare or a health care provider and offer free or discounted services, products, or equipment, such as COVID-19 tests, vaccines, braces, and much more. They ask for your Medicare number or other personal information. These scams can result in unauthorized charges on your Medicare account, identity theft, or loss of benefits.
are those where the caller claims to be from the IRS or a tax agency and demand immediate payment of taxes or penalties you allegedly owe, or offer a refund or stimulus check for which you supposedly qualify and ask for your bank account number or other personal information. These scams can result in losing money, identity theft, or tax liabilities.
are likely to be the most dangerous. These are scams that pretend to be your grandchild or a relative who is in trouble and needs your help urgently. The story behind this scam is the loved one has been arrested, hospitalized, stranded, or some other traumatic event and needs you to send money or gift cards to them or a third party. These scams can result in losing money, emotional distress, or family conflicts.
Lottery or sweepstakes scams
claim you have won a lottery or a sweepstakes you did not enter and ask you to pay a fee or a tax to claim your prize or provide your bank account number or other personal information. These scams can cause you to lose money, become a victim of identity theft, or result in legal troubles.
claim they are from a legitimate or fake charity organization and ask you to donate money or gift cards to support a cause that may appeal to you. This may be disaster relief, veterans’ aid, animal welfare, or any other type of charitable organization. These scams can result in the loss of money, identity theft, or supporting fraudulent or illegal activities.
Tech support scams
claim to be from a tech company or service provider and warn you your device or account has a problem or a virus. They ask for remote access to your device or account, or to pay them for a repair or subscription. These scams can result in compromising your device or account, losing money, identity theft, or malware infection.
involve creating a fake online profile and establishing a romantic relationship with you, and then asking you for money or personal information for various reasons. This could include travel expenses, medical emergencies, visa fees, and other similar items. These scams can result in losing money, identity theft, emotional trauma, or blackmail.
How to Recognize Phone Scams Targeting Seniors
Phone scams targeting seniors can be hard to recognize. This is because they often use sophisticated techniques and technologies to deceive and manipulate you. However, there are some warning signs that indicate that a call is a scam.
Asking for money or personal information upfront should throw up a red flag. Legitimate callers will never ask you to pay them money or give them your personal information, such as your SSN, bank account number, credit card number, password, PIN, or any other personal information over the phone. If someone asks you for these things, it is likely a scam.
Another red flag is when a caller demands immediate payment or action. Legitimate callers will never pressure you to make a payment or take an action right away. They will always give you time to verify their identity and their claims. If someone tries to rush you or scare you into doing something, it is likely a scam.
Threatening legal consequences or harm is another potential red flag. Legitimate callers will never threaten you with legal consequences or harm if you do not comply with their demands. They will always respect your rights and follow the law. If someone tries to intimidate you or coerce you into doing something. This is more than likely a scam.
When a caller offers deals or prizes that sound too-good-to-be-true, you should be on high alert. Legitimate callers will never offer you deals or prizes that are too good to be true, such as winning a lottery or sweepstakes you did not enter, receiving an inheritance or refund you did not expect, getting a low-interest loan or grant you did not apply for just to name a few. If someone tries to entice you with these things, it is likely a scam.
There are also some tips on how to verify the legitimacy of a caller or a call.
Ask for their name and contact information of the caller. Legitimate callers will always provide you with their name and contact information, such as their phone number, email address, website address, and any other pertinent information. They will also allow you to call them back using these details. Scammers will often refuse to give you this information or give you fake or spoofed information.
Hang up and call back using a verified number. Legitimate callers will always answer your call if you hang up and call them back using a verified number you obtained from an official source, such as their website, your bill, your statement, etc. Scammers will often not answer your call or redirect you to another scammer.
Perform due diligence by doing online research or checking with trusted sources. Legitimate callers will always have an online presence and reputation you can check by doing online research or checking with trusted sources, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the FTC’s Consumer Information website, the AARP’s Fraud Watch Network website, and other places. Scammers will often have no online presence or reputation or have negative reviews or complaints.
How to Avoid Phone Scams Targeting Seniors
Phone scams targeting seniors can be avoided or reduced by taking some preventive measures and following some best practices. The following tips will help you reduce the number of scam calls you receive.
Register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry.
This is a free service that allows you to opt out of receiving telemarketing calls from legitimate businesses. You can register your number online at [donotcall.gov] or by calling 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want to register. You can also check if your number is already registered on the same website or phone number.
Block unwanted numbers on your phone.
This is a feature that allows you to block specific numbers from calling you on your phone. You can block unwanted numbers by using your phone’s settings menu, using an app like [Hiya] or [Nomorobo], or contacting your phone service provider, for example.
Use caller ID or call screening services.
These are services that allow you to see who is calling before you answer the call. You can use caller ID services by using your phone’s built-in feature, using an app like [Truecaller] or [RoboKiller], contacting your phone service provider. You can also use call screening services by using an app like [Google Call Screen] or [YouMail], which can answer the call for you and ask the caller to identify themselves or state their purpose.
Here are some tips on how to handle or end scam calls if you receive them.
Avoid answering unknown numbers or hang up immediately if you suspect a scam. This is the simplest and most effective way to avoid phone scams. If you do not recognize the number or name of the caller, do not answer the call. If you answer the call and hear a recorded message or a suspicious person, hang up immediately. Do not engage or provide any information to the caller.
Never follow any instructions or press any buttons on your phone. This is another way to avoid phone scams. If you answer the call and the caller asks you to press a button or dial a number on your phone, do not do it. This may connect you to another scammer, charge you a fee, or compromise your phone. Just hang up.
Refuse to engage or provide any information to the caller. This is another way to avoid phone scams. If you answer the cal,l and the caller asks you for money or personal information, do not give them anything. Do not confirm or deny any information they already have. Do not answer any questions they ask. Do not follow any instructions they give. Simply say “No” or “I’m not interested” and hang up.
Food For THought
How to Report Phone Scams Targeting Seniors
Phone scams targeting seniors should be reported as soon as possible to help stop the scammers and protect other potential victims. You can take some steps if you are a victim or a witness of a phone scam targeting seniors.
This is the first step to take if you gave out your bank account number, credit card number, or other financial information to a scammer. You should contact your bank or credit card company immediately and inform them of the fraud. You should also ask them to freeze or close your account, reverse any unauthorized transactions, issue a new card, and any other steps they deem necessary.
This is another step to take if you inadvertently gave your online account information, such as your email address, password, security question, etc. to a scammer. You should change your passwords or security settings as soon as possible and enable two-factor authentication if available. You should also check your account activity and report any suspicious or unauthorized actions.
This is another step to take if you received a scam call or lost money or personal information to a scammer. You should file a complaint with the FTC online at [ftccomplaintassistant.gov] or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). You should also file a complaint with the FCC online at [consumercomplaints.fcc.gov] or by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322). You should provide as much information as possible about the scam call, such as the date, time, number, name, message, etc.
There are also some resources or contacts that can help you report or recover from phone scams targeting seniors.
The FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book: This is an annual report that provides statistics and trends on consumer complaints received by the FTC, including phone scams. You can access the report online at [ftc.gov/reports] and use it to learn more about phone scams targeting seniors and how to avoid them.
The AARP’s Fraud Watch Network Helpline is a free service that provides support and guidance to seniors who are victims of fraud, including phone scams. You can contact the helpline online at [aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork] or by calling 1-877-908-3360. You can also sign up for free fraud alerts and newsletters from the AARP.
The Identity Theft Resource Center is a non-profit organization that provides free assistance and resources to victims of identity theft, including phone scams. You can contact the center online at [idtheftcenter.org] or by calling 1-888-400-5530. You can also access free tools and guides on how to prevent and recover from identity theft.
How to Use the Best Identity Theft Protection Services for Seniors
Identity theft protection services are services that help you protect your identity from phone scams and other forms of fraud. Identity theft protection services can provide various features and benefits as described below.
Credit monitoring and alerts are features that monitor your credit reports and scores from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and alert you of any changes or suspicious activities. The activity credit monitoring services look for include new accounts, inquiries, or delinquencies. Credit monitoring and alerts can help you detect and prevent identity theft and improve your credit health.
Identity monitoring and alerts are features that monitor your personal information and identity across various sources and databases, such as the dark web, public records, social media, etc., and alert you of any exposure or misuse of your information. This could include data breaches, fraud attempts, or account takeovers. Identity monitoring and alerts can help you protect and secure your personal information and identity from phone scams and other forms of fraud.
Identity theft insurance and recovery services provide you with financial protection and assistance in case you become a victim of identity theft. Identity theft insurance can cover the costs of restoring your identity, such as legal fees, lost wages, etc., up to a certain limit. Identity theft recovery services can provide you with a dedicated case manager who can guide you through the recovery process, including filing reports, disputing charges, closing accounts, and whatever other actions are necessary.
When choosing an identity theft protection service for seniors, you should look for the following features and benefits:
Customer support and education resources
You should look for a service that provides you with excellent customer support and education resources. You should be able to contact the service by phone, email, chat, or postal mail at any time and get prompt and helpful responses. You should also be able to access free tools and guides on how to prevent and recover from identity theft.
You should look for a service that covers all aspects of your identity, such as your credit, personal information, devices, accounts, and all finance-related aspects. It should also provide you with comprehensive monitoring and alerts across various sources and databases.
You should look for a service that offers a reasonable price for the features and benefits it provides. You want to compare different plans and options that suit your needs and budget. You should also look for any discounts or offers that may be available for seniors.
How to Hire an Identity Theft Protection Service for Seniors
If you are a senior who wants to protect your identity from phone scams and other forms of fraud, you may want to hire an identity theft protection service. An identity theft protection service is a service that monitors your personal and financial information and alerts you of any suspicious or unauthorized activities, such as new accounts, inquiries, or charges. An identity theft protection service can also provide you with insurance and assistance in case you become a victim of identity theft.
However, hiring an identity theft protection service can be challenging, as there are many options available in the market, each with different features, benefits, and prices. How do you choose the best identity theft protection service for seniors? The following lists some tips on how to hire an identity theft protection service for seniors.
Compare different plans and options. You should compare different plans and options offered by different identity theft protection services and see what features and benefits they provide. The service you choose should cover all aspects of your identity including your credit, personal information, devices, accounts, and any other personal information. It should also provide comprehensive monitoring and alerts across various sources and databases.
Check the price and value. You should check the price and value of the identity theft protection service to see if it fits your needs and budget. You should look for a service that offers a reasonable price for the features and benefits it provides. You should also look for any discounts or offers that may be available for seniors.
Read reviews and ratings from other customers who have used the identity theft protection service and see what their experiences and opinions are. You should look for a service that has positive reviews and ratings from satisfied customers. You should also check the reputation and credibility of the identity theft protection service and see if it has any complaints or issues.
Contact customer support at the identity theft protection service and see how they respond to your questions or concerns. You should look for a service that provides you with excellent customer support and education resources. You should be able to contact the service by phone, email, chat, or postal mail at any time and get prompt and helpful responses.
One of the best identity theft protection services for seniors that we recommend is Legal Yogi. Legal Yogi is a service that connects you with the best identity theft attorneys in your area who can help with your case. Legal Yogi offers four free consultations to help you with your legal issue, and then helps you find the most affordable lawyer for your needs. Legal Yogi also provides you with information and resources on how to prevent and recover from identity theft such as articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, webinars, workshops, and much more.