Although many older adults are taking part in tech literacy programs, the perception remains that older generations are easier targets for online scams and financial fraud. So seniors, and their caregivers, have plenty to be wary of.
In addition to the classic approach of robocalls, imposters claiming to represent a grandchild in trouble, or a government agency such as Medicare, top the list of common scamming techniques, according to a new white paper released by Thomson Reuters. The report is designed to be a guide for senior living and care providers to stay up to date on the latest trends and help alert their residents and patients.
The five most common categories of fraud aimed at older adults:
- Government impersonation scams
- Sweepstakes winner scams
- Illegal robocalls
- Computer/IT scams
- Grandchild impersonation scams
In 2021, older adults lost almost $1 billion due to such scams, the white paper authors noted. That amount includes more than $200 million dollars given away in “romance” scams, in which someone feigns interest through social media or a dating app and then asks for money. Due to the embarrassing nature of the fraud, those cases could be underreported, researchers said.
“The costs of fraud against seniors has significantly increased across all of the top forms of fraud,” paper author Melissa Berry stated. “Awareness of the schemes that scammers use to target older individuals can help reduce the risk that senior citizens will become victims of these crimes in the future.”
Fortunately, older adults appear to be wising up to potential scams, even as their social media use grows, recent studies show.
Some tech literacy programs, such as one of Senior Planet’s offerings, specifically deal with how to avoid getting scammed online. Among numerous other material being circulated, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives also has a “Think Before You Click” resource to help users determine when releasing private medical information is safe.