Senior couple on a laptop
Home » Blog » How to Protect Seniors from Scams

How to Protect Seniors from Scams

Scams targeting older adults are all too common. With more and more people shopping online, buying health care insurance online, paying bills online and banking online, in many cases, scammers do not even need to come into personal contact with a senior to successfully commit elder fraud. Many scammers think of seniors as targets for their illegal activities because of their retirement savings or because seniors may live alone. Here are 10 of today’s most common scams used in senior fraud:

  1. Health insurance scams offer new supplemental policies or the person claims to be from Medicare and offers new benefits to the elderly person answering the phone.
  2. Telemarking scams offer investment opportunities, cheap travel, free trials or prizes.
  3. Fake inheritance scams happen when a person calls a senior and says they must pay a small sum of money in order to take ownership of a large inheritance.
  4. Senior fraud associated with fake accident scams are when a person calls a senior and says a relative has been in an accident and requires financial help.
  5. Robocalls record responses when a senior answers questions over the phone and then the scammers use the voice recording for elder fraud, such as making charges on credit cards and bank cards.
  6. Fake protection scams offer applications that protect against other types of fraud but actually gather information and use it to create new credit cards and access bank account information.
  7. Charity scams approach elderly people and say they are collecting donations, while they’re actually gathering victims’ money for their own gain.
  8. Internet fraud that targets seniors is very popular and includes such scams as fake-virus popups, real viruses and attempts to steal identities through fake websites and emails.
  9. Computer support scams offer to provide tech support to seniors but often install viruses or gather personal information to create credit cards and access bank account information.
  10. Counterfeit prescription-focused elder fraud schemes offer “better prices” on medications and attempt to acquire seniors’ financial information.

There are plenty of ways to stay ahead of those attempting to commit senior fraud and for seniors to avoid getting scammed. 

Understanding Elderly Fraud

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there were more than 90,000 victims of senior fraud in 2021, resulting in more than one billion dollars in losses. In fact, only 1 in 44 cases of elder financial abuse or senior fraud is reported, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association.

Elder fraud can take on many different forms. The most common types of senior fraud usually fall into one of these categories:

  • Abuse of power of attorney
  • Identity theft
  • Lottery scams
  • Tax scams
  • Use of debit or credit cards
  • Telemarketing or internet scams
Senior couple looking at laptop and paperwork smiling

Luckily, there are ways for loved ones to keep seniors safe from elder fraud. So, what are the red flags for elder financial exploitation?

Changes to Legal or Financial Documents

If a senior is suddenly missing important documents, has given important documents over to someone or has started having conversations with attorneys or financial advisors without including trusted family members, this could be a red flag. Many cases of elder fraud begin with gaining access to a senior’s financial information, and this can be done by earning their trust and making copies of their documents. Items such as insurance policies, estate plans, retirement account information and bank account information should all be kept safe.


If a senior has become isolated, it can impact the way they think and interact with others. Isolated seniors may lower their guard with friends and strangers alike, which can cause the seniors to trust people they may not have normally trusted.

New Contact Information

Another potential red flag for senior fraud includes the senior no longer answering the phone or changing phone numbers. It can also be a disturbing sign if someone new is answering the phone for the senior or responding to their emails; if a person is “managing” communications for an unrelated senior, they could be trying to take over control of the senior’s personal affairs.

New People in Their Lives

Getting to know new people is a great thing at any age! However, if a person has entered a senior love one’s life and is trying to give financial advice, taking the senior to appointments where financial decisions are made or inserting themselves in private family decisions, it could be a sign of an attempt at elder fraud.

Unusual Behavior

Giving away money, unusual spending patterns, unexplained checks or transferring assets to people unexpectedly could all be red flags of senior fraud. Someone looking to exploit a senior will often try to frighten the senior with stories of money being stolen or lost and encourage the senior to put the money somewhere “safe,” where the fraudster can access it later.

Protecting Against Elder Fraud

In addition to knowing the signs to watch out for, there are many ways to protect seniors from elder fraud. Here are some steps to take to reduce the risk of senior fraud:

  • Designate a trusted person to hold power of attorney
  • Only use the services of certified financial advisors or other credentialed professionals
  • Educate family members and friends about the risk of senior fraud and potential scams
  • Stay informed about current scams and tactics used by scammers to commit senior fraud
  • Use caution when giving out financial information; verify sites and sources before sharing any information
  • Keep all social media accounts private
  • Utilize resources, such as online scam trackers and fraud hotlines, to stay up to date on the latest warnings
  • Avoid alternative payment types; most legitimate businesses will accept major credit cards
  • Be wary of anyone requesting a senior to act urgently – scammers often rely on fear to push seniors to act quickly
  • Check in regularly with senior loved ones to ensure they have the resources they need to make important decisions

Sometimes seniors do not report senior fraud because they are embarrassed about being a victim. Talk openly about the risks of senior fraud and how anyone could be a victim. There is nothing to be embarrassed about! If there is a chance elder fraud is taking place or that a loved one may be in danger of becoming a victim, seek support as soon as possible. The faster families take action, the better chance of recovering their losses!

About Mount Prospect Senior Living

At Mount Prospect Senior Living, we are committed to making our residents’ next chapter exactly what they want! Living at Mount Prospect brings many benefits. Offering both assisted living and memory care, Mount Prospect residents are supported by a range of services and amenities that make life more fun and more active. From on-site dining to entertainment, everything at Mount Prospect is designed to support residents and allow them to live life at their own place. Through our Vibrant Life® program, we offer activities and events, amenities and dining experiences that offer a new experience each day. 

Are you ready to learn more about Mount Prospect Senior Living? Contact us today to ask questions or set up an on-site tour!