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3 Common Scams to Avoid for Seniors

By K-Staff

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When it comes to an ideal victim, a scammer wants someone who is easily manipulated and who will trust easily. Unfortunately for seniors, this means they can be seen as a perfect target. Many seniors must be more aware of current trends to avoid scammer attacks.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Sentinel Network Data Book for 2021 has reported that those 70-plus have reported losing more money to scammers than their younger counterparts, $800 vs. $500, and those over 80 have reported losing close to $1,500. YIKES!

Whether you’re a senior citizen or a caretaker of one, here are a few scams to watch out for and how to protect yourself or a friend/family member from these scammers’ common tactics.

1. Phishing Scams

Phishing attempts use email and other methods to steal personal information, such as financial details or account passwords. We call this type of scam “phishing” because these scammers throw out their “bait” and hope someone will catch it.

How does a phishing attempt work?

  1. Typically, the victim is contacted via electronic communications. Email is most common; however, text messages, social media, voicemails, and phone calls are also used.
  2. An attacker will claim to be an organization or individual familiar and trustworthy to you. Their goal is to convince you that this communication is honest and to convince you to give up personal information.
  3. An attacker tricks you into giving access to your most coveted information, such as login credentials, bank information, or credit card numbers.


Phishing scams can be highly effective because scammers can create fake emails and websites very cleverly. It’s essential to be vigilant and watch for anything that looks off.

2. The Grandparent Scam

This scam is complicated because a scammer will take advantage of what many seniors hold dear, their grandchildren. It might go a little something like this:

Scammer: “Hi, Grandma. Do you know who this is?”

Grandma: “Hi. Is this you, John?”

Scammer: “Yes, Grandma, it’s John. I’m stuck in jail and need money to help bail me out.”

Grandma: “Oh goodness. How can I help?”

Scammer: “Can you wire transfer my money or send me a few gift cards?”

Grandma: “Of course!”

It can be somewhat scary when you’re in this situation. However, it’s essential to remain calm and trust your instincts. A good rule of thumb is to verify with another family member that knows the whereabouts of the person the scammer is impersonating.

3. Tech Support Scams

Seniors are usually slower to adopt new technology, leaving them less educated to identify a scam.

How does a tech support scam work?

  1. Tech support scams usually occur with a pop-up message or blank screen that will prompt you that your computer has been compromised and to act immediately.
  2. The scammer will ask you to give remote access to your computer or pay to fix it.
  3. A scammer gains access to your computer and your financial accounts.


Stay vigilant. No reputable tech company will contact you unexpectedly or ask you to pay through gift cards or a bank transfer. If you receive a phone call that appears to be from a reputable company, check the phone number on their website and call them directly.

How can I keep myself safe?

Unfortunately, some people might want to take advantage of you, but there are ways you can stay safe and avoid becoming a victim.

  • Be wary of uncommon ways of payment. When someone demands to be paid through wire transfer, gift cards, cryptocurrency, etc., this is a sign that you may be dealing with a scammer.
  • Don’t trust anything too good to be true. Often, a scammer will present you with a deal that looks great from the outside but will leave you penniless or worse. Remember to trust your instincts; if something seems off, it’s best to walk away. It can also be helpful to ask a friend or family member for their thoughts before acting.


If you’ve become a victim, you can report it to ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Kirtland CU will NEVER contact you asking for your banking credentials.

Don't Be a Victim!

You need to know about credit union impersonation scams so you can avoid becoming a victim of these nefarious tactics.

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