Top scams aimed at senior citizens

Jul 24, 2012 13:19:55Posted by John Skorick, MyAKA Founder & CEO

Top scams aimed at senior citizens

Many senior citizens have become tech-savvy, and this means they should be taking steps to protect their online privacy. A number of con artists target the elderly in hopes they will be more willing to give out personal information and allow the scammers access to their personal accounts. According to AARP, being aware of some of these scams may help elderly individuals recognize the con before they fall victim to it.

"Work from home" online job offers

This scam resulted in 17,352 complaints in 2011, and it is easy to see why some seniors fell for the con artist's ploy. The criminal advertises a work from home opportunity, which can be very appealing to seniors who do not want to travel to work, but would love to earn some extra cash while at home. The victims think they are working as money transfer agents, when in fact they are mules that are unknowingly stealing and laundering money, according to the publication.

Scammers posing as government officials

Impersonating an FBI agent, IRS official or another government employee is a very common ploy among online criminals, as these scammers request personal information and money to prevent an arrest. This scam is typically conducted via email, an approach an actual government worker would never take, the media outlet reports.

Romance scams

Online dating scams are not limited to senior citizens, but older adults are commonly targeted through this venue. Typically, the scammer becomes close with a person through an online dating site. After developing a relationship with their victim, they create a story in which they need money right away, but this is simply just another scam.

How seniors can protect themselves

According to Investopedia, there are a few things seniors can do to avoid identity theft, including guarding their personal information. They should never give out personal information, such as full driver's license or social security numbers. In fact, customer service personnel or bankers will not ask people for these full numbers, but rather just the last four digits of the social. Therefore, if someone is asking for the entire number, a red flag should go up.

Seniors should also be cautious when surfing the web - one wrong click to an unsafe website could mean a virus on the individual's computer and their bank accounts vulnerable, the media outlet reports.