Seniors Still Swindled by Scammers

BBB Updates Seniors about Current Scams for World Elder Abuse Day 2014
June 13, 2014

The stories are heartbreaking. Grandmothers and grandfathers who are abused, neglected and financially exploited. According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, hundreds of thousands of seniors are victimized every year.

June 15, 2014 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington wants consumers to know the warning signs of abuse.

Seniors are often vulnerable to fraud and financial crimes. They are easy to reach at home, are too polite to hang up on calls from strangers, and are more likely to have financial means. BBB wants seniors and their families to be aware of the following scams:

  • Grandparent Scams— Scammers call and claim to be grandchildren who need help. Common ploys might be, “I’m stranded on spring break” or “I’ve been arrested” or “hospitalized” and need money for medical purposes, to get out of jail or back home. The cons generally ask their victims to wire money. They claim their voice sounds different because of an accident or crisis, and ask that the grandparents not tell their parents.
  • Charity Scams— Con artists will ask for donations or money for raffles to benefit charities. BBB recommends only making donations to reputable charities. Seniors can go to to read reports on local and national charities and find ways to give wisely.
  • Healthcare Scams— Scammers will call or email, claiming to be with Medicare or insurance companies. They’ll ask to confirm personal information, in order to send a new card or announce a new plan. Additionally, they might tell victims, they need to send money for the new plan or card.
  • Sweepstakes/Lottery Scams— Victims receive letters in the mail stating they have won the lottery or sweepstakes. The letters will instruct the person to deposit an enclosed check and then wire a portion of the money back to the company to cover taxes or administration fees. The checks are usually bogus and victims ends up losing the money. Remember, never send money to receive any winnings from a lottery or sweepstakes.

Family and friends need to do their part and watch for the following signs of financial exploitation:

  • Missing belongings and property
  • Unusual bank activity
  • Unnecessary purchases
  • Sudden changes to power of attorney or wills
  • Sudden interest in investments or business opportunities
  • Several unpaid bills or bounced checks.

For guidance, turn to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Center on Elder Abuse at Report serious incidences to local law enforcement and file complaints with the state Attorney General’s Office.