Janine Davis

Photo By Faizal Ramli Shutterstock

My mom is considered the ‘elderly’. She’s an 83-year-old honest and polite woman who can’t seem to say ‘no’ or hang up on scammers. That’s why I’m glad to know there are agency’s like AARP that have developed resources that may prevent the ‘elderly’ and people like me from getting scammed.

According to their site, AARP has a free program to help reduce or prevent fraud. It’s called the Fraud Watch NetworkTM Helpline . It a free 800-number for AARP members and and even nonmembers. Those who suspect they are victims of fraud should contact 877-908-3360.

What makes it so cool is the program has trained fraud specialists and volunteers who field thousands of calls each month. They can guide you on best practices and you don’t have to worry about being judged.

The number of scams that take advantage of the elderly has grown. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA),  in 2021 over 92, 000 older adults were scammed. That resulted in $1.7 billion in losses. In many cases, these financial crimes can be devastating to older adults. Many are left financially ruined with no way to recoup their losses.

The NCOA says there are common financial scams that specifically target seniors.  Here are five of them.


  • Government impersonation scams

    This is when the scammer calls an unsuspecting senior pretending to be a government official like someone from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security Administration or Medicare.  They use a scare tactic to frighten the victim, saying they  have unpaid taxes and could face arrest, deportation or even get their Social Security or Medicare benefits cut off.



  • Sweepstakes and lottery scams

    In this scam, scammers call an older adult letting them know they’ve won a lottery or a prize of some kind. They add if they want to claim their winnings, they have to  send money, cash, or gift cards up front. To build trust with the victim, scammers may pretend to be familiar sweepstakes organizations (like Publishers Clearing House) Many continue to call their victims for months and even years after defrauding them out of an initial sum of money.

  • Robocalls and phone scams


    These calls can be ultra annoying. Robocalls take advantage of automated phone technology and dial large numbers of households from all over the world. Robocalls are legal, however they can be used to carry out a number of scams on older adults. Some robocalls could may claim the victim’s warranty on a car or electronic device has expired and they need to renew it. Like most phone scams, the number they call from is disguised.


  • Computer tech support scams

    These scams prey on older people because of their lack of knowledge about computers and cybersecurity. What happens? A pop-up message or blank screen usually appears on a computer or phone. The message tells the victim their device is damaged and needs fixing. When they call the support number for help, the scammer may either request remote access to their computer and/or demand they pay a fee to have it repaired. 

  • The grandparent scam

    According to the article on NCOA website, this is one of the more simple scams and pulls on the heartstrings of older adults. Scammers call a would-be grandparent, pretending to the be the grandchild. They would ask something like: “Hi, Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the grandparent guesses the name of the ‘grandchild’, the scammer is able to quickly gain their trust. The fake grandchild then asks for money for some urgent financial problem. They may beg the grandparent not to tell anyone. Scammers usually ask to be paid via gift cards or money transfer because they don’t always require an identification. Unfortunately, that’s bad news for the victim as they may not ever recover their money.

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