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Online Scams Seniors Should Be on the Lookout for

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Scams have always been around. Ancient Greek merchants would sink their ships to get the insurance. Unscrupulous door-to-door salesmen might promise the world and never return. Today, however, scams—online scams in particular—are now more sophisticated than ever. At Peregrine, we want to help you stay informed so that you and your family can avoid being a victim of fraud.

Online scams: Trends to watch for

The Federal Trade Commission reports that while scams continue to evolve, there are several that crop up often when seniors are the intended victims. Here are a few.

• Online scams offering technical support

You’re sitting at your computer and a pop-up message suddenly appears warning of a virus or other problem that needs immediate attention. Or, you receive a call from someone pretending to be “tech support” with a well-known computer company. It can be alarming to think you’ve been hacked, and leave you vulnerable to their “solution.” Don’t fall for it.

If you have any concerns about your computer’s security, run a scan with your own security program, or contact someone you trust. Never make a payment to anyone you have never heard from before.

• Online scams claiming you’ve won the jackpot

You’ve won a prize! But first, you have to send money. Doesn’t sound quite right, does it? Many popular online scams involve a pop-up on the computer or an email saying you’ve won, or that you can enter a sweepstakes—but first you need to pay for the ticket or the fee. Not only will you never get any money, they most likely will ask for your personal information, such as account or credit card numbers, which they can then steal and use. Never give out your financial information to a person who tells you they need it.

• Online scams promising romance

It’s a dirty trick: preying on a person’s emotions. It’s especially unfair when the scam is directed to a senior who might be lonely, widowed, or vulnerable. But unfortunately, romance scams are very common. The Federal Trade Commission reports that people lost $1.3 billion to romance scams in 2021 alone, more than in any other FTC fraud category. And while romance scams can target any age, median losses for victims who are over 70 were $9,000.

It’s important to remember that romance scams can stretch over weeks or months, while the scammer gets to know you by email before asking for money. Be aware that these fraudsters often set up fake social media profiles and seem to have an answer for every question you ask. But as with any of the online scams, when someone you really don’t know well —even if you meet in person—asks you for money, it’s a sign something is not right.

• Online scams letting you in on a bargain

Online shopping scams are the most frequent type of scam targeting older adults. For example, during the pandemic, a common online scam was to sell masks or other limited-supply items during the pandemic and then never deliver. These websites can look real, but in fact are not. When searching online, there are some red flags you can look out for: a website with spelling errors, prices that seem too low, little detail, deals that require immediate response, or odd payment methods such as money orders or wire transfers. If you spot these warning signs, leave the site for good.

• Online scams helping you get away

Who wouldn’t love a free vacation? Problem is, there’s no such thing—at least not from someone you’ve never met. When a scammer offers a free vacation, it involves getting money and information from you, usually right away, as the offer is “limited.” Problem is, the cabana, hotel room, cabin or cottage may not look anything like promised, or may not even exist. Take the advice of the Better Business Bureau—read reviews of any property you are considering visiting. If you do make a reservation, use a credit card so you can dispute the charges If you are scammed.

The adage applies: if it sounds too good to be true, it more than likely is!

What to do if you recognize a scam

If you think you see a scam, it’s important to share your information. Tell your friends, neighbors and family. Your story could help someone avoid that scam. Then report it to the Federal Trade Commission at

Pioneering Care: The Peregrine Way™®. Contact us today to learn more, and please download the free guide, The Complete Guide to Choosing Between Senior Living Options. We are here to help you!

Written by
Stephen Sarsfield Bowman

More Articles By
Stephen Sarsfield Bowman

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