Caregivers Community

Telephone Scam Prevention Tips For Seniors

Gina Flores
Caregiver Advocate | Shield HealthCare
09/14/15  3:15 PM PST
scam prevention

Telephone Scam Prevention Tips For Seniors

Telephone scam prevention for seniors is becoming a critical issue in today’s society, as senior citizens are often a prime target for telemarketing schemes. Some of the key reasons why this mature population is regularly pursued by impostors are:

  • An impression that seniors have funds sitting in a savings account, ready for the taking
  • Seniors are more likely to conduct business and purchases over the phone
  • Most seniors are homeowners with higher credit scores and lines of credit
  • A trusting, polite nature is a green light for scammers

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports the following four examples of telemarketing fraud:

  1. The fake accident ploy – The con artist claims the senior’s child or another relative is in the hospital and needs money, requiring the distraught party to wire or send money for immediate assistance.
  2. Charity scam – Typically after a natural disaster, scam artists pose as a fake charity to prey upon sympathy and an urgent need for disaster recovery relief efforts.
  3. The pigeon drop – The scammer informs the individual that he/she has encountered a large sum of money and is willing to share it if the person will make a “good faith” payment by withdrawing funds from their bank account. Sometimes a second con artist is involved, posing as a banker or attorney, or another trustworthy stranger.
  4. Funeral scam – The FBI warns of a ploy where scammers read obituaries and/or attend the funeral service of a complete stranger to take advantage of the grieving widow or widower. The scammer calls the victim with a claim that the deceased had an outstanding debt with them.

Telephone scam prevention tips:

  • Register your home telephone number on the National “Do Not Call” Registry at donotcall.gov
  • Obtain the caller’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before considering a transaction
  • Inform telephone solicitors you refuse to respond to an offer before seeing everything in writing
  • Never give credit card, bank, or any other personal information over the phone
  • Do not answer phone calls from unrecognizable numbers
  • Be cautious of unsolicited offers and claims of “free gifts” or “prizes”


National Council on Aging (ncoa.org)

Federal Bureau of Investigation (fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud)

Home Instead Senior Care ® Protect Seniors from Fraud ® (www.caregiverstress.com/senior-safety/senior-fraud)

National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (preventelderabuse.org/elderabuse/fin_abuse.html)