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The Vista Blog

How to Spot and Avoid Scams as an Older Adult

Older adults are unfortunately common scam victims – and the problem is only increasing. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center, in 2022 there were 88,262 fraud complaints from people over age 60, resulting in $3.1 billion in losses.

Knowledge is your best protection against common scams as an older adult. Familiarizing yourself with the various types of scams and the best ways to spot and prevent them will help you avoid becoming a victim.

What Are Some Common Scams?

  • Grandparent scams: A scammer will call or email a grandparent posing as their grandchild and ask for financial assistance to help in a fabricated crisis situation.
  • Tech support scams: These scammers contact you claiming you have a problem with your computer that doesn’t exist, such a virus, and request payment for tech support services you don’t need.
  • Email phishing scams: These emails will appear to be from a legitimate source and request the recipient send personal information, such as a username, a password, banking details, or a social security number, which they then use to commit identity theft or steal funds from the victim.
  • Online shopping scams: These fraudulent websites advertise goods but have nothing actually for sale – they exist only to collect payment information from the victim. Scam shopping sites often appear in comment sections on social media pages and can look surprisingly real, even featuring fake reviews for their products.
  • Romance scams: A scammer will use a fake identity and photos to gain the victim’s trust and affection and begin an online romance. The scammer then manipulates the victim to get personal data or to extort money. These scams often begin on social media or dating sites.
  • Government impersonation scams: Scam artists pretend to be from government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, Medicare, or the IRS, and contact victims to request sensitive personal details or payments.
  • Fake charity scams: In these scams, victims are tricked into donating to fabricated charities. These scams commonly occur after tragedies or natural disasters.

How to Avoid Scams

Being vigilant and aware can help prevent you from becoming a victim. The following tips will help you protect yourself and effectively spot and avoid scams.

Don’t act quickly

Scams often work by preying on fears and creating a sense of urgency to act. Make sure to take time to evaluate the situation before doing anything, ensure everything is legitimate, and never provide personal details or bank information over the phone or via email. If you suspect anything is a scam, end the correspondence and talk to someone you trust.

Stay on top of your accounts

Review all of your incoming bills, credit card statements, and bank account statements regularly to check for any unauthorized charges or suspicious activity. Contact the provider, credit card company, or bank immediately if you see any charges you don’t recognize.

Never reveal personal data

Scam artists often request personal information, such as your Social Security number, bank account numbers, usernames and passwords, or credit card information. Any requests for this information over the phone or via online messages should be treated with suspicion.

Avoid suspicious links

Never click links in unsolicited emails, texts, or social media messages from someone you don’t recognize. Sometimes, someone you DO recognize may even send the links – scammers often create accounts using photos of a social media user and contact their friends and family posing as the person in the photo.

Ask a friend or family member

If you ever feel skeptical or unsure about a request or message you receive, ask a trusted friend or family member for their input. Getting another person’s perspective, particularly if they are more tech-savvy, can be helpful in avoiding scams.

Add extra security to your accounts

Keep the security software on your computer and smartphone up-to-date. Many online accounts let you turn on multifactor authentication so that you must enter a code sent to your personal phone or email address to allow account access. This extra security can help deter scam artists even if they access your username and password.

How to Report a Scam

If you become a scam victim, it’s important to report it to the appropriate agencies to protect others from the same fate.

Local law enforcement: Victims are encouraged to report scams to their local police, especially if they lost money or had their identity stolen.

Federal Trade Commission: Contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or use their online complaint form to report various types of fraud.

Identitytheft.gov: For identity theft scams, report to the federal government site www.identitytheft.gov or call 1-877-ID THEFT.

Division of Consumer Affairs: Scams can be reported to your state Division of Consumer Affairs (or similar state consumer protection agency in your state).

Better Business Bureau (BBB): Report scams involving fraudulent business practices to the Better Business Bureau.

Tech Support at The Vista

On-site tech support services are among the many amenities offered to the residents of The Vista. Ensuring your devices are up-to-date and software is properly installed is helpful in protecting you from scams and identity theft. If you require assistance managing your devices or fixing an issue, The Vista’s expert technician is available to guide you.

For more information on The Vista, its many premier amenities, and the vibrant lifestyle at the community, please call (201) 383-1656 or provide your contact information using our quick and easy form.


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