Scams and Fraud

6/16/2022 | By Annie Tobey

Are you prepared to resist a scam? Take our Scam Savvy Quiz to see how savvy you are … or how vulnerable you may be to dire warnings, potential romance, and false promises.

Scam Savvy Quiz

Choose your most likely response from the multiple choices, see if your response matches the correct answers, then check out the tips that can help keep you safe from dastardly scammers!

1. Urgent bank problem

You receive the following warnings via phone call, email, or message: “This is [your bank]. Your account has been compromised. May we have your account number so we can get to work on recovering your lost funds?”

a. Follow the link in the message so you can address the problem promptly.
b. Call the number in the message, because you know better than to click on links from strangers.
c. Log in to your online account for your bank to see if there are any problems or messages.
d. Pull out your bank statement and call the number on the statement.


Either c or d would be correct.

Related tips:

  • Never click on a link in an incoming message or email.
  • Never give out personal information or identification to an incoming call or message.
  • Confirm if the message is true and confirm the contact information through a separate, objective source – like a website or bank statement.

2. Intriguing social media request

Senior woman getting duped by internet romance scams

You receive a Facebook friend request from an attractive widow(er), a happy person surrounded by friends and family.

a. Accept the friend request. After all, you’d like a wonderful new relationship to fill a void in your life.
b. Click on the profile and check to see if it seems valid: confirm where the person says he/she lives, if you have mutual friends.
c. Delete the friend request.


Your best choice is c, but you can try b if you are very careful to confirm the person’s identity as legitimate. But stay on guard!

Related tip:

According to the FTC, about half of all romance scam reports since 2019 involved social media, usually Facebook or Instagram, including scams that start with a social media message or friend request. Don’t be one of them!

3. Urgent plea for help

You receive a call from a relative saying they need your help. They were in a car accident and need money – but please don’t tell anyone else. You must send the money in gift cards, and please do it quickly!

a. You’re a kind-hearted soul and always ready to help, so you rush to follow the instructions.
b. You affirm that you want to help but say you can’t take the call right now, so you ask for a phone number to call back. Then you reach out to a mutual friend or family member to confirm if this is true.
c. You hang up.


Choice a will likely lead you into a scam – the money will go to a dishonest scammer rather than the person they are pretending to be. Instead, choose either b or c.

Related tips:

  • Requests to send money via gift cards is a surefire sign of a scam!
  • Demands not to tell anyone else is another surefire sign of a scam!
  • Scammers use pressure tactics and rush the target to weaken their defenses and get them to act against their better judgment. Don’t let them!
  • Scammers like to prey on our kindness, but it’s not noble to give money to a scammer. You need to confirm the truth of any such request.

Related: It won’t happen to my mother. Yeah, I thought so too.

4. Virus warnings

Senior man using some of our announcing a death on Facebook examples

A pop-up warning on your monitor says your computer has a serious virus and you must click on the link or call the number on the pop-up to stop it.

a. Click quickly before more damage is done!
b. Check your computer to see if you have the software displayed by the pop-up installed.
c. Close your browser and run an antivirus scan.
d. Call a trusted computer advisor.


Chose c or d. Don’t click or call! Clicking on a malicious pop-up can can trigger a malware download resulting in data theft, ransomware attacks, and other damaging consequences. If you call the phone number, the scammers will use all their dastardly wiles to persuade you to pay them to fix your system, possibly even convincing you to let them log in to your computer!

Related tips:

If a pop-up claims that you have a virus and you need to pay to get rid of it, it’s a scam. Legitimate antivirus software companies don’t issue warnings like this.

5. Warnings of trouble

You got a phone call or voicemail from a collection agency representing the IRS saying that you owe back taxes … or a call from the U.S. Marshals Service saying they have warrants for your arrest.

a. You know better than to mess with the government, so you do exactly what you’re told.
b. You try to be conscientious about taxes and obeying the law, so you hang up or ignore the message.
c. You contact the IRS or U.S. Marshals Service directly, using a number from the internet, a past tax form, etc., not any number that this phone call gives you.
d. You call your accountant or lawyer and let them figure it out.


Do not choose a – this is NOT the government contacting you! Instead, choose b, c, or d.

Related tips:

Scammers use pressure tactics to get their targets to act irrationally. Step away before acting and call the alleged source using a known legitimate phone number – or let your accountant or lawyer make the call.

6. Utility cut-off alert

An email from your utility company warns that they will cut off your power unless you pay immediately. Like right now! Simply call this number or click this link and they’ll ensure prompt payment.

a. You follow the instructions – call the phone number and grant access to your bank account! After all, with the crazy weather this time of year – not to mention food in the fridge, and maybe even an important prescription – you can’t be without electricity!
b. You delete the email.


Please, choose b!

Related tips:

Signs of a utility scam include an unscheduled call or visit from someone claiming to represent a utility company; threats to cut off service unless payment is made immediately; or demand for payment by wire transfer, cryptocurrency, gift card or cash-reload card.

7. Prize notification

An email or text message says you have won sweepstakes or a gift card. To claim your prize, you simply click on a link, answer a few simple questions, and/or send money to ensure receipt of the prize.

a. You click on the link. You sure could use a gift card!
b. You delete it.
c. You reply and give the sender a piece of your mind!


Your best choice is b. Not a, and no, not c.

Related tips:

  • Always beware of clicking links from unknown sources.
  • Even responding to a phone call opens the door to a persuasive scammer.

8. You’ve got money

An email or phone call informs you that you are due a large refund from a bank error, and they are eager to help you get that money back. On the phone – or after calling the phone number in the email – the friendly representative instructs you to download software that will allow them to process your refund.

a. This representative, so friendly and eager to help, simply can’t be a scammer, so you trust them to help.
b. You hang up and call the bank to see if this is legitimate.
c. You ignore it.


Yes, please choose b or c!

Related tips:

Scammers know how to fake being friendly and concerned! Check with your bank to see if you are really due a refund – they are legally obligate to help.

9. True love

You’ve met a wonderful person on a web dating site. The relationship is blossoming quickly, and the person is making plans to meet you in person, though they’re currently in another country on business. This person has an unexpected emergency and needs a temporary loan, right away, through a wire service.

a. You are always one to help a person in need, so you wire them money.
b. You’re in love, so you wire them the money.
c. You end the relationship. Sorry, Charlie.
d. You report the incident to the FBI.


Choose c, for sure, and perhaps d as well.

Related tips:

Romance scams have become one of the top ways to get money from well-meaning, good-hearted people. The Federal Trade Commission reported that internet romance scams reached a record $304 million scammed off innocent victims in 2020. That’s up 50% from 2019 and represents a median dollar loss of $2,500 for individual victims. Don’t be one of them!

Related: When love seems to good to be true …

10. Online order invoice

You receive an email thanking you for a recent purchase, with a link and an attached invoice. You don’t recall what you ordered, but you do order online occasionally, and you might be getting a bit more forgetful.

a. You click on the link and/or download the invoice to make sure it’s legitimate.
b. You ignore or delete the email.
c. You mark the email as spam.


Choose b, for sure, and c as well, should you choose.

Related tips:

Do not click on links or download files from unknown sources!

More tips for staying savvy on scammers:

How’d you do? Are you savvy enough to stop a scam? Give yourself a high five for every correct answer. If you answered incorrectly – or even hesitated – review the tips above and the additional helpful tips and red flag warnings below.

• Be skeptical.
• Be rude. Or if you have trouble being rude, make up a ruse.
• Connect with a trusted family member or friend to verify suspicious requests – even if it involves a romance.
• Never open or use a personal bank account to deposit or transfer funds for someone else.
• Use known links to access businesses online.
• Be wary of get rich quick schemes.
• Be skeptical of requests to download apps to fix issues or allow access to your computer or tablet.
• Always beware of clicking links from unknown sources!

Red flag warnings:

• Poor grammar or spelling.
• Unofficial email addresses.
• Requests for personal information or identification.


Staying safe from shysters

7 common senior scams

Annie Tobey

Annie Tobey has been a professional writer and editor for more than 30 years. As editor of BOOMER magazine, she explored a diversity of topics of particular interest to adult children of seniors. When she’s not writing, she can be found running the trails or enjoying a beer with friends.

Annie Tobey