Everyone thinks the elderly are the most at-risk for being scam victims. We have stereotyped that the “less educated, less intelligent, elderly, lower income, and less financially secure” are the most at risk for a scam. However, according to a survey by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, roughly 30 percent of those aged 25 to 34 were scam victims and only 10 percent of those age 55 and older were scammed.
One of the co-authors on the study thinks the elderly may be more savvy about scams than those under 35. Why is that? For one thing the elderly are usually less impulsive buyers than younger people and are less likely to purchase online, where more scams happen.
The Better Business Bureau recommends two things you can do to help yourself and others. One is if you are a victim, report what happened and warn others. This will help you feel empowered as you gain some control in the situation. It will also help others.
The second thing to do is learn about the latest scams and methods villains are using to swindle people. Knowledge of what scams and the scam methods could possibly help people from being taken.
According to the Better Business Bureau the 10 Top Scams in 2015 were:
1. Tax Scam – Someone claiming to be from the IRS calls you and says you owe back taxes. They say you have to pay now in order not be arrested or face legal consequences.
2. Tech Support Scam – Someone contacts you saying your computer has a security threat or a virus. They claim they will fix it if you allow them to have control of your computer.
3. Sweepstakes or Lottery Scam – They claim you have won a prize but you have to send money for delivery.
4. Advance Fee Loan Scam – After completing a loan application online you are told you need to send a processing fee, security deposit or insurance to get the money (which doesn’t come).
5. Fake Check Scam – You receive a check but it was more money than it should be. You are told to deposit it and wire the difference, but you end up with no money and sending money to them.
6. Debt Collection Scam – Someone calls claiming you haven’t paid a debt and you could go to jail, if you don’t pay immediately. Crook often claims to be with the government or law enforcement.
7. Credit Card Scam- Someone calls claiming they need to verify your account or a recent transaction. Don’t ever give them your account numbers and security codes over the phone.
8. Home Improvement Scam – Someone offering to fix what is wrong demands payment before doing the work. You pay and then the person never does the work.
9. Government Grant Scam – Receiving a call or letter that you have qualified for a government grant, you are asked to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card for a “processing” or “delivery” fee.
10.Work-From-Home Scam – Completing an online job application for an alluring job, you are told you have to pay an advance fee for materials and information. They may take your money and/or steal your identity.
Check things out carefully before you get scammed!
Pat Brinkman is the OSU Extension Educator for Fayette County.