Learning about scams that target different age groups is crucial to protect ourselves and our loved ones from falling victim to fraudsters. For example, seniors are often targeted with scams related to healthcare, social security, and investment schemes, while young adults may be targeted with job scams, fake online shopping websites, and phishing emails. It’s important to stay informed and educate ourselves on how to spot and avoid these scams. This can include regularly checking our credit reports, being cautious of unsolicited phone calls and emails, and keeping our personal information safe. By staying vigilant and informed, we can protect ourselves and our family members from falling prey to scams.
Age 17 and younger
Social media scams
Social media is used by scammers to steal information through fake surveys, events or contests. They may also try posing as an unknown person trying to befriend teens with the intention of stealing personal information or taking their money.
Tip: Make sure teens set social media accounts to private so information and pictures are not easily accessible. It is important to talk to them about the risks of sharing personal or account information with someone they do not know.
Scammers will lure teens through social media with “free” ring tones, wallpapers, gift cards or other items so that they opt into their services. These services often have hidden, expensive monthly subscriptions that youth bankers oftentimes don’t realize they’re subscribing to.
Tip: Talk to your teens about how to research companies and that they should never share information by creating an account or opting into free trials that require payment information upfront.
Teens are tricked into bidding and paying for items that never arrive. Alternatively, scammers trick teens into sending items to sell but never receive their payment, or the auction never takes place.
Tip: Help your teen learn how to research any company or auction site thoroughly before participating in the biddings to make sure it’s legitimate. Help them to review and monitor transactions that you have approved.
Students and young adults: Age 18-29
Online Income scams
Scammers hook their victims with the promise that they’ll earn quick and easy money right from their home. To apply, they must either send payment for the application or they’re sent a fraudulent check and required to transfer a portion of the check to the company.
Tip: Walk away from any job offers that require you to pay money upfront.
Scammers reach out to individuals who may be enticed by the promise that they can get their debts reduced or forgiven – for a one-time fee.
Tip: Reputable lenders will not require upfront payment. If they charge a fee, it will be deducted from the loan amount.
Fake Sale Listing scams
Goods, services and housing are listed on job or community boards for very low prices that seem too good to be true. Once the victim sends payment, what was promised never arrives or never existed.
Tip: Research companies that make offers that are too good to be true and never give out any personal information or send payments to anyone you do not know.
Adults and parents: Age 30-59
Property Foreclosure Rescue scams
Posing as lenders, loan servicers, etc., scammers will promise to refinance property at a better rate or stop a foreclosure. However, they’ll ask for a steep upfront payment or trick victims into signing documents that transfer the property to predatory companies.
Tip: Be wary of “lenders” who pressure you to act fast into deciding quickly or say they can guarantee stopping a foreclosure. Always research companies thoroughly.
Debt Collection scams
Scammers posing as law enforcement or debt collectors try to collect a debt that’s not actually owed. They may go as far as threatening jail or even violence to receive payment but refuse to show any written proof of the debt.
Tip: Do not offer any kind of financial information to anyone calling to collect a debt unless you initiate contact first.
Like an upfront fee scam, lending scams happen when a victim thinks they’re applying for a loan through an online lender or lender app. Scammers entice victims with guaranteed approval even with bad or no credit but require paying upfront fees as “insurance” or for “processing fees.”
Tip: Be cautious of any lenders who claim to guarantee a loan approval. Reputable lenders will have a set of requirements they abide by.
Older adults and grandparents: Age 60+
Government Impersonation scams
Scammers use scare tactics to force individuals to wire money, send a prepaid credit card, gift cards or cashier’s check by pretending that they’re a trusted individual from a government agency like the Social Security Administration or the IRS.
Tip: Any government agency will first contact you through the mail, never by phone or email.
The Grandparent scam
Scammers trick the victim by pretending to be family, a bail bondsman or an emergency service, notifying that their grandchildren are in dire need of money. They ask for funds to be sent through person-to-person payments or wire transfers.
Tip: Do not answer phone calls from numbers that you don’t recognize; let the call go to voicemail. Use a separate source such as the internet or a reverse phone lookup search engine to verify the company. Companies will not call or email you and ask for a cash payment to help a relative.
Counterfeit Prescription Drug scam
Scammers entice the elderly with promises of prescription drugs or “miracle” drugs that can cure certain ailments at a majorly discounted rate but oftentimes the medication never arrives.
Tip: If purchasing prescriptions online, make sure they’re approved by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. It is best to always consult your physician.