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Scams Targeting Seniors and How to Avoid Them

Scams Targeting Seniors and How to Avoid Them

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australians lost more than $10.3 million to scammers in 2018. The statistics further reveal that the majority of those targeted that filed reports were 65 years of age and older. And, collectively they lost an average of $3.5 million. With these figures in mind, it’s worth diving into scams currently out there. Specifically, we’ll look at how seniors — an often vulnerable group — can avoid them.

The report found that the main form of communication between scammers and their senior victims was via telephone and email. These are two forms of communication seniors are particularly comfortable with. If you’ve chosen to age in place and make use of various aged care support services, your mornings could often include checking your email and potentially answering phone calls. And you probably trust that the information you receive via these channels is both safe and true.

At this point, there’s no need to close down your email account and cut off your phone line. But, there are a few ways to guard yourself against becoming a victim. Below are a couple of scams to watch out for and how to make sure you don’t become a statistic in next year’s report.

PHISHING

Scams take many shapes and forms. But the most common scam is phishing. According to Scamwatch, phishing occurs when “A scammer contacts you pretending to be from a legitimate business such a bank, telephone or internet service provider. They could contact you via email, social media, phone call, or text message.”

Next, the scammer proceeds to extract personal details from you in order to access your bank account. The message will look as if it comes from a legitimate and established company. They’ll often use their logo and a similar email address or website. And, they’ll request your personal banking details. This typically involves asking you to verify your banking details because they’ve detected unusual activity on your account.

How do you guard yourself against this type of scam? Remember the following warning signs and tips:

  1. Never hand your personal banking details to an agent over an email or over the phone. Your bank will never ask you to provide these details straight to an agent.
  2. Do not click on any links in an email where this type of personal information is asked for.
  3. If you are unsure whether or not the email is legitimate, type the company’s name and email address into a search engine such as Google. When there’s a scam, there will either be a number of people calling them out online, or you will see a slightly email and name surfacing that could be the legitimate version.

    elderly man using a smartphone

INVESTMENT SCAM

Another common scam is an investment scam which involves “getting you or your business to part with money on the promise of a questionable financial opportunity” according to Scamwatch. Victims get cold called by someone posing as a financial advisor or broker from a particular financial institution. They’re offered a low-risk, high returns deal. Seniors get targeted by this scam as they no longer earn an income. This makes them particularly susceptible to falling for an offer that offers great financial returns for very little input.

If you end up falling for this scam, they’ll ask you for a down payment which they will invest into shares or property. Once the funds have left your account, they disappear without a trace. While getting a call about a potentially sound investment opportunity can falter ones judgment, the warning signs you must take account of if you receive such a call are there. We’ve listed the warning signs to look for when you suspect a fraudster:

  1. You receive numerous calls from someone offering a deal on an exciting investment opportunity. They will be persistent and try convey a sense of urgency while they have you on the phone.
  2. The deal on offer is low risk, but high return: a ‘get rich quickly’ scheme.
  3. You’re required to deposit funds into their account before any document signing or a face-to-meeting.

We can’t always fool proof ourselves against scams entirely. However, we can certainly try to have the knowledge behind us to spot one if it comes our way. If you think you’ve been scammed or received a potentially fraudulent email or phone call, you can report it directly to Scamwatch via their ‘Report a scam page’.


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