It’s pretty likely that you have gotten a phone call at some point from someone claiming to be from Medicare, the IRS, the Social Security Administration, or another government agency. They want to talk about your taxes or your social security, and they need to verify some of your personal information.
These calls are from scammers trying to get your social security number, credit card information, or other personal financial data. The caller may introduce schemes to convince you to donate to a fake charity, pay taxes on a sweepstakes you’ve supposedly won, or pay off a made-up debt.
In 2019 alone, over 153 million dollars was lost to scams. Most of these scams specifically targeted older adults. Con artists often go after older adults because they often have more assets, are more comfortable making purchases over the phone, and may experience cognitive impairments that make them less protective of their personal information.
Unfortunately, many people never report being scammed even after they realize what has happened. People are often embarrassed at being tricked and don’t want others to know what has happened. However, reporting these scams to law enforcement can help to stop the scammers from continuing their schemes.
Fortunately, there are many resources to help protect you from the many scams that are out there. AARP operates the Fraud Watch Network, identifying recent scams and sending alerts to older adults about scams taking place in their region. Older adults can also call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 1-877- 908- 3360.
Every state also has a Consumer Protection Office. In Pennsylvania, the Attorney General’s Office oversees the Bureau of Consumer Protection. Their website includes consumer advisories, alerts about recent scams, and a form to report suspected fraud. They also operate a toll-free Helpline at 800-441-2555
The following are additional links and resources to protect you and your loved ones from scams targeting older adults:
The National Council on Aging covers the “Top 10 Financial Scams Targeting Seniors”
The IRS identifies “Five Easy Ways to Spot Suspicious Calls”
The Social Security Administration provides a guide to “Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number”
The Federal Communications Commission advises on “Older Americans and Medicare Card Scams”
The Federal Trade Commission shares “10 Things You Can Do to Avoid Fraud”