$36.5 billion – This is how much money adults over 60 lose annually to financial exploitation, according to a 2016 study done by True Link Financial. A big portion of this financial loss is at the hands of scammers. IRS scams, grandparent scams, home improvement scams… they target older adults because of their assumed “nest-egg savings” and the increased chance they will reach someone who is isolated or cognitively impaired.

Beware of giving personal financial information over the phone.

Grandparent Scam

How it works: “Grandma/Grandpa, I need help!” Once the caller has convinced you that they are your grandchild and in trouble, they will ask you to send money/gift cards to help pay lawyer fees, pay off “police,” etc.
What we recommend: Ask personal questions that only your family members would know the answer. Ask for a call back number. Contact your grandchild (or other family members) to ask the whereabouts of an alleged caller in an attempt to validate.

Home Repair Scam

How it works: A stranger knocks on your door (UNINVITED) and advises they noticed you needed a new roof, driveway, mulch, etc. This individual will offer you “the best deal” and offer to get started right away. You pay this person up from BEFORE any work is completed. The work is never done.

What we recommend: Never entertain a salesman who comes to your home uninvited. Simply ask for a business card and ask them to leave. Never pay anyone for work that has yet to be completed. Do not sign any contracts/paperwork without showing it to a trusted family member or friend first.

IRS Scam

How it works: You receive a call from someone stating they work for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This person claims you owe back taxes and if you do not pay right now, you will be arrested. The caller will either ask for your banking information or for you to go get a gift card in a certain amount (usually iTunes).

What we recommend: Remember, the IRS will always correspond with you via mail before ever calling you directly. Hang up and call the IRS directly if you are concerned you may owe back taxes.

If you can remember these five tips, you will safeguard yourself against scammers!

  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Do not allow someone to rush/pressure you to make a decision.
  • Never give anyone WHO CALLED YOU personal information (SSN, date of birth, banking info).
  • If you “won,” you will never have to do anything to claim your prize.

If you are 50+ and believe you have been a victim of a scam, contact FiftyForward Victory Over Crime 615-743-3417.

This article is edited from its original article format submitted to Mature Lifestyles.