People of any age may be at risk of falling prey to a scam. Older adults are often the targets of identity theft and scams because they are vulnerable and trusting and scammers try to play on your good will and trust. Victims can be targeted by telephone, mail, door-to-door or over the Internet. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Here are a few scams to be aware of:

Medicare Scams
New Medicare cards will be mailed between April 2018 and April 2019 because the current cards list your social security number. Scam artists may try to get your current Medicare Number and other personal information by contacting you about your new Medicare card. They often claim to be from Medicare.  Medicare will never call or email you. If someone calls you and asks for your Medicare Number or other personal information, hang up immediately and call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Utility Scams
You may be contacted by a “representative” from your utility provider claiming that they will cut your electrical power, assess a fine, or even jail you unless they receive immediate payment. Do not offer your name and address and account number. There are strict regulations governing the cut-off of utilities and the legal process includes several notices being sent to the customer first. If you are hearing for the first time about a payment being due that day from you to the energy provider, it is likely a scam. Report the scam to your utility provider, and notify the Department of Public Utilities.

Fake Facebook friend requests
You may receive a friend request from a relative and accept the request only to find out later that you were already friends with this person. This is usually an imposter account and scammers may offer promises of free money from a family grant and suggest that you give them your bank account numbers so they can deposit the money in to your account.  If you are on Facebook, you should adhere to these tips:

  • If you realize you mistakenly friended someone, unfriend the imposter and notify your friends on Facebook.
  • Review the privacy settings on your Facebook account and limit what information you share with others, as imposters rely on our tendency to overshare information about our lives on social media.

Veteran Scams
Scammers may call veterans claiming they work for the VA and ask for personal information to update their records. If you get an unsolicited call from the VA, hang up and notify your local VA office immediately.

Here are a few tips to help guard you against all possible scams:

  • Be wary of callers claiming that you have won a prize or vacation package. Do not pay a fee, taxes, or shipping charges to receive a prize.
  • Hang up on suspicious phone calls or do not answer calls if you do not recognize the phone number.
  • Do not provide your credit card number, bank account information, or other personal information to a caller.
  • A caller may inform you a relative is in immediate need of money and ask you to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card. Do not send money in this situation.
  • Do not click on links in emails or texts to verify your bank account or credit card numbers.
  • Do not believe anyone who says they are from the government or an official-sounding organization.

Some of these tips may be common sense but scammers are relentless and intimidating.  People may get nervous and offer their personal information without realizing it.  There are many different types of scams and each may be reported differently. If you suspect that you have been a victim of a scam, you can report it to your local police department or contact your local Attorney General’s office immediately.

The links below contain more information about scams.