Critter Corner: Financial Scams Targeting Seniors 

Dear Ribbit, 

My sister lives alone, and she is a very trusting person. I am constantly afraid someone will take advantage of her. Do you know what some of the common scams that are targeting seniors today are, so I can tell her what to watch out for?

Thanks for your help, 

Lee Vaherr-Alonne


Dear Lee, 

Financial scams are devastating to many older adults and can leave them in a very vulnerable position. According to the National Council on Aging, these are some of the most prevalent financial scams today:

1. Medicare/health insurance scams: In these types of scams, perpetrators may pose as a Medicare representative to get older people to give them their personal information, or they will provide bogus services for elderly people at makeshift mobile clinics, then use the personal information they provide to bill Medicare and pocket the money.

2. Counterfeit prescription drugs: Counterfeit drug scams operate on the Internet, where seniors increasingly go to find better prices on specialized medications. The danger is that besides paying money for something that will not help a person’s medical condition, victims may purchase unsafe substances that can inflict even more harm. 

3. Funeral & cemetery scams: The FBI warns about two types of funeral and cemetery frauds perpetrated on seniors. In one approach, scammers read obituaries and call or attend the funeral service of a complete stranger to take advantage of the grieving widow or widower. Claiming the deceased had an outstanding debt with them, scammers will try to extort money from relatives to settle the fake debts.

4. Telemarketing/phone scams: One of the most common scams is when scammers use fake telemarketing calls to prey on older people, who as a group make twice as many purchases over the phone than the national average. One example is when money is solicited for fake charities. This often occurs after natural disasters.

5. The grandparent scam: Scammers will place a call to an older person and when they pick up, the scammer will pretend to be a grandchild, and will usually ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem (overdue rent, payment for car repairs, etc.), to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram, which don’t always require identification to collect. 

Hop this is helpful and that your sister doesn’t get targeted for any scams. To report a scam, AARP ElderWatch offers a list of contacts.



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