Scams and Fraud

2/21/2023 | By Charlie Fletcher

The existence of unscrupulous people looking to prey off of others seems to be timeless. Technology has opened up new avenues for fraudsters. By staying aware of senior scams that are making the rounds, you can guard against these unprincipled scammers.

An important component of senior life is maintaining independence. Whether you’re enjoying retirement, traveling, or running your own business, a real sense of autonomy empowers you to thrive.

This makes it particularly vital to embrace the components that support your independence. This can include finances, personal identity, and other resources. It’s an unfortunate reality, though, that there are people that are running scams that can disrupt these resources. Still, with a little knowledge and consideration, you can empower yourself to safeguard your independence.

Some senior scams to be aware of

Online shopping scams

The prominence of e-commerce is a valuable way of accessing otherwise difficult-to-obtain goods. Not to mention it can sometimes be more convenient to have something delivered at the click of a mouse. That said, seniors can get the most positive experiences here by maintaining an awareness of some of the hazards involved with online shopping.

Some of these are simply involved with selling you goods but providing items of a lower quality than advertised. In some instances, they may even sell you stolen goods. However, other approaches are more complex in nature. For instance, purchasing property online is convenient, but there can be a range of risks. Alongside issues like discrepancies in online mortgage calculators and valuation tools, some hackers target such sites to steal visitors’ personal data.

Often, the best way to safeguard yourself in these circumstances is to be selective about your interactions. Try and only utilize e-commerce sites you already have experience with. It’s also important not to enter personal information on a site that doesn’t have a valid security certificate. You can usually confirm this by checking that there is the symbol of a padlock in the browser address bar or that the website URL begins with https:// (the s denoting security).

Related: 71-year-old stops a Norton LifeLock / BBB scam

Credit card scams

Credit cards are useful tools in contemporary society. They might support your safety by limiting the amount of cash you take around with you. Credit cards could make transactions during your international travel experiences easier. By being savvy about scams involving these tools, however, seniors can keep them a practical part of commercial interactions.

As a valuable asset, credit cards attract a varied range of scams with new tactics frequently arising. Most scams are different forms of phishing, which involve thieves posing as legitimate business representatives in order to gain your credit card details. For instance, they might send you a message by phone or email, claiming to be from your bank and that there’s an issue with your account. To fix this issue, they’ll request that you “confirm” your card number, Social Security number, and other personal information.

worried senior woman on a smartphone. Image by Wirestock. Fraudsters are timeless, sadly, and technology has opened up new avenues for them to cheat innocent people. Beware of these senior scams.

Empowering yourself to keep your credit card protected usually involves being strict about who you provide your personal information to. No credit card company or bank will contact you and request you provide identifying information over the phone. Your bank will have official numbers or online services for you to utilize if there are issues, and the best approach is to tell the caller that you’ll contact them back via one of these channels.

IRS scams

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) plays an important role in our lives. They also represent a certain amount of authority to most people as a government agency. Unfortunately, there are those who attempt to take fraudulent advantage of this status. The good news is that seniors can ensure they continue to have positive interactions with the IRS by recognizing the signs of these scams.

In most cases, this begins with a phone call or email. The fraudster may be using “spoofing” techniques, which sends a caller identification message that makes it look as though they’re calling from the IRS. They may inform you that you’ve underpaid on taxes related to your retirement fund or investments and that unless you make an immediate payment, they’ll take legal action.

As with so many situations, it’s important not to panic. Genuine IRS representatives won’t initiate contact with you about such issues in the first instance by email or call to make threats about legal action. The IRS contacts you by letter in most instances. Hang up on the caller and contact your local IRS office directly, they’ll not only help you confirm the validity of the call but also help you take further action if necessary.

Taking the time to understand current scams is a route to maintaining your independence. Being aware of online shopping scams enables you to make the most of the convenience of e-commerce. Recognizing phishing methods empowers you to continue the freedoms offered by credit cards. Understanding that the IRS doesn’t call or email to make threats means you can respond appropriately to some fraudsters. Scammers can be bold, but maintaining your knowledge on the subject means you can navigate these challenges and thrive beyond them.

Charlie Fletcher

Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees” – Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for social activism and search for the truth. You can find more of her writing at