Warning! New, More Sophisticated Scams Target Seniors

telephone scam

Cheap new technology lets scammers “spoof” phone numbers to trick caller identification systems.

New and increasingly more sophisticated scams are targeting the elderly, who are hard-pressed to keep up and stay ahead of the latest cons.

“Callers often pose as cash-strapped grandchildren, tax collectors or providers of technical support,” reports Jennifer Levitz, writing for The Wall Street Journal.

What makes the new scams particularly effective is that calls frequently use “spoofed” caller identification, which makes it look like the calls are coming from a particular phone number, like the Internal Revenue Service, a family member, or credit card company.

“Callers can spoof outgoing numbers through smartphone applications for about 20 cents a minute,” reports Levitz.

Seniors are facing what’s called a virtual “onslaught” of calls facilitated by the new phone technology available to scammers.

The Federal Trade Commission has received a record 1.7 million complaints about unwanted calls, including robocalls, in the first four months of 2016 alone.

It’s not just the annoyance factor. Callers impersonate tax and bank officials and family members to defraud unsuspecting seniors.

What you can do: Warn your elder family members about the scams, and let them know that caller ID numbers can be “spoofed” and can’t necessarily be trusted. Many institutions, like the IRS, will never contact you by telephone. If you get a call from a “needy family member” or credit card company, don’t release any personal information, and call them back at a number from your own files that you know to be trustworthy.

For more pointers on combatting phone fraud, check out Senior Fraud Prevention tips published by “A Place for Mom” or visit AARP’s Fraud Watch Network, including its IRS Phone Scam alerts.

About Mari Adam

Mari Adam, Certified Financial Planner™ has been helping individuals and families chart their financial futures for over twenty-five years. Have a question about your financial situation? Ask Mari!

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