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3 Common Scams for Seniors to Avoid


What is the Sandwich Generation?  This is the term being used to describe those in their 40s and 50s who are caring for elderly parents, as well as still caring for their own children.  They are caregivers at both ends of the age spectrum.  In both cases, the caregivers must be vigilant as dishonest people are constantly running scams aimed at those who are too trusting to know better.  Below we will discuss some common scams to avoid.  Let your elderly loved ones, as well as your teens, know about them so they can be on alert.

Common scams to avoid primarily include those seeking money either directly or through gift cards.  A phone call telling you that you will go to jail if you don’t pay money or gift cards, false letters and emails that copy the letterhead of real, well-known companies, and computer pop ups and phone calls asking for money to fix a computer virus are 3 common scams.

When someone falls victim to a scam they often feel stupid.  Nobody should feel that way though because scammers spend all day, every day honing their craft.  They are expert liars and manipulators.  Being taken advantage of means you are trusting.  That is an admirable quality.  Unfortunately, in today’s world, not everyone can be trusted.  This article is being written to help alert you about some common scams so that you can help yourself, your elderly loved ones, and your teens not fall prey to these unscrupulous predators!

SCAM #1 – You Will Go to Jail

Scare tactics are a scammer’s best friend.  They want to instill fear in their potential victim so that they panic and can’t think calmly and rationally.  A local resident was willing to share this story with us.

“While in college, our daughter who was 19 at the time, received a phone call telling her she had made a mistake on her taxes and that if she didn’t go out and buy $400 in iTunes gift cards and call them back with the gift card numbers that the police were going to come and arrest her.  She did it, and didn’t call us until after the fact.  She was totally distraught.  As parents in our 40s, we knew that was ridiculous. Why would the IRS want iTunes gift cards?  But, she had just started filing taxes and didn’t know better.  The simple threat of jail scared her to death.  We asked her why she didn’t text us while she was on the phone with them to ask us if it was legitimate.  She didn’t even think of it because of the fear they instilled.”

This is an example of a typical “you will go to jail” scam.  No legitimate organization is ever going to request or accept payment via gift cards.  Additionally, they will not call and ask for payment with the threat of immediate incarceration if not paid.

SCAM #2 – False Letters and Emails

These scams can be very difficult to detect as they seem to come from legitimate, well-known businesses.  You may receive a letter in the mail on letterhead that looks just like the actual business.  In one instance, after listing something for sale on a legitimate website, a local teen was immediately sent an email from “Paypal” that looked completely legitimate until it asked for his bank balance!  Big corporations are not going to ask you for this kind of information!  Nobody should!  If you harbor any doubts about a letter or email, contact the company’s customer service.  But first, make sure it is their actual customer service number as even those can be falsified.

SCAM #3 – Computer Popups and Phone Calls

Today, more and more elderly people are using computers and smartphones.  They are a great way for them to stay in touch with family that lives out of the area, as well as use them for the same purposes as the rest of us – games, shopping, etc.  A common scam is getting a computer popup OR phone call stating that your computer has a virus or stating that your antivirus program has been renewed and you owe money.  Both of these are false claims.  Your computer doesn’t have a virus and you never purchased an antivirus program so you don’t owe anyone anything!  A local woman in her 70s fell for one of these pop ups and paid to have the “virus” fixed.  Thankfully, it wasn’t a huge amount.  As soon as her daughter in her 40s found out, she explained to her mom that it was a scam.

What Can You Do?

Talk about scams with your elderly parents.  Look at the FBI website together that discusses common scams and crimes.  If you are skeptical about a phone call, letter, or email that your parent has received, this website is an excellent source to determine if it is a common scam.  Additionally, if your parent gets scammed, be sure to report it. 


Trusting people are scammed every day.  Scammers don’t care if it is your elderly parents who are living on a fixed income.  As you can see from the stories in this article, they are willing to take advantage of young and elderly people alike.  The best thing you can do is to talk about scams with your elderly parents, and be as vigilant as possible.  If they are scammed, be sure to report it.

While nobody can necessarily prevent your elderly parent from getting scammed, perhaps you don’t live locally and would like to know someone is looking out for their best interest.  While assisted living facilities are not responsible for your parents’ mail or responsible in the event they are scammed, it is nice to know that they are in a place with a caring staff that might be able to answer questions for them or contact you if they are worried that your loved one has fallen victim to a scam.  Victoria Landing, located on the Indian River in Melbourne, FL, is one of the premier senior living communities in the area.  With a wonderful staff, beautiful facilities, and a huge variety of activities, Victoria Landing is a wonderful community of senior friends living and thriving together.  If you are interested in a senior living facility for yourself or a loved one, please reach out to us today!

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