How To Avoid Elder Financial Scams, Cyber Security & More

I’ve recently read several articles on scams. And it didn’t occur to me until today, that Halloween would be the perfect day to send you something scary. Though being scammed did not make “The Top 10 Fears in America 2023” list, from personal experience it’s definitely one of my top fears! I have summarized the top scams apparently aimed at the elderly (eek, turning 60 in February may indeed make me a candidate for this category!) I experienced the TOP scam targeting seniors – tech support scams. And the crazy thing is, I am fairly tech literate!

I was working alone, into the evening at our office on Kent-Kangley in 2021 when my computer yelled at me. Well, there wasn’t a voice, but there was a loud noise like a siren. You know when your phone announces an Amber Alert?  – Something like that. I was so startled not knowing my computer could do such a thing. A pop up yelled: your computer is compromised – call this number now! And I did! I was in the midst of multiple offers and managing a lot of due dates. I could not have my computer fail me now! It was a horrid experience, and I’ll spare you the details. What followed in 2022 was way worse though. Let me know if you want to hear the “rest of the story”, ugh.

We’ve had a grandparent of our children receive the grandparent scam. She was fairly sure it was our son’s voice telling her he was in distress and he could not reach us and needed money right away to help him. She was no computer tech but she was tight with her money and wasn’t going to send it without checking in with us first, and so she avoided the pitfall. Now, years later, they’re saying AI can mimic our kids’ voices!

I have summarized the article below, but please go to the article to view the quotes I used to put this together as well as links to more information.  (If you can trust Parade Magazine, anyway!)

  1. Tech support scams: The top scam targeting seniors is tech support scams—hackers claiming that the victim has a virus on the device and requesting money to fix it. In this scam, hackers call or send pop-up messages asserting the victim’s device is infected. They then offer to “fix” the non-existent issue for a fee.
  2. Grandparent scam: Plays on Emotions where imposters pose as relatives in immediate distress. Scammers pretend to be a grandchild in distress who ask for money to be sent urgently.
  3. Social Security card scams: The victim is called and told their Social Security number has been identified in a crime that was committed and that the police are on their way to arrest the victim right now unless some amount of money can be paid.
  4. Romance scams: Perpetrators leverage dating sites to develop relationships with older adults, and eventually ask for money. These fraudsters build emotional rapport before constructing elaborate stories to coerce funds. Isolated seniors long for companionship and connection, which scammers ruthlessly prey upon.
  5. Bogus Bills for Healthcare Services: Increased healthcare and Medicare cons; Pretending to be Medicare reps or health providers, scammers use phone, email, text and mail to steal seniors’ money and identity under the guise of “verifying” information or providing critical services. They leverage fears over healthcare access to perpetrate these insidious scams.
  6. Dishonest Contractors Target Homeowners: This prevalent scam involves home improvement rip offs. Scammers posing as local contractors offering home improvement services, but they either take money and run or do shoddy work.

Read more here in Parade Magazine’s Article.

In summary, per the article and it’s various links, to avoid these predatory pitfalls, experts offer these helpful tips that could very well protect you or your loved one:

  • Educate regularly about common scams—this is the first line of defense. Have frequent conversations to build awareness before victimization occurs.
  • Check-in regularly: Maintain regular check-ins by phone or in person to get ahead of any suspicious communications; look for early warning signs.
  • Teach tech smarts: Raise the level of digital literacy for the seniors in your life. These scams rely on the fact that many elderly people are not as technologically literate as younger generations.
  • Review Software and Handle Payments: Teach your loved ones about antivirus software. Explain to them that antivirus software never asks you to call them.

PS: If this hasn’t scared you enough, try this article on for size!

Marti Reeder, Realtor, Managing Broker