Guarding your Wealth: Identify and Prevent Scams

Jun 2024

Scams have become commonplace in our lives so it’s important to know what to look for and how to avoid them. Scammers often target senior citizens assuming they aren’t savvy enough to recognize a scam. They tend to play on your emotions to convince you to provide them with financial information. Scam artists will go as far as to research details about you that they find online, which can make the scam more targeted and believable. Some of the most common scams, often targeted at seniors, are below, along with tips on how to avoid falling victim to them. If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam

Fake prizes, sweepstakes, and lottery scams

Scammers will try to convince you that you’ve won a big prize in a fake contest. You’re asked to provide bank account info, claiming it’s necessary to receive your prize. Volunteering this information gives scammers what they need to steal your money and potentially your identity. To win a lottery or sweepstakes, you must enter! Legitimate lotteries and sweepstakes reveal all terms and conditions for winning the prize. When purchasing a lottery ticket, be sure to check local reports for the winning numbers as the lottery agency will not reach out to you directly.

Family emergency imposter scams

You will typically be contacted by phone, email, or social media and told that your relative or friend is in some kind of trouble and needs money immediately. As technology advances, scammers can replicate the voice of your relative or friend using AI (artificial intelligence). This scary tactic is becoming more common and can be very convincing. If this happens to you, be sure to notify others close to the person, validate the information and ask questions that only the individual would know the answer to. Always be wary when dealing with a request for money, especially if it’s urgent.

Fake IRS phone calls

If the IRS calls, emails, or texts you first, it’s a scam. Scammers contact victims and state they must pay promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, loss of license, deportation, etc. The IRS will only communicate with you by mail. If you receive a call, email or text from someone claiming to be from the IRS it is fake.

Phony charity scams

Although there are many different charities and organizations you can support, there are also many scams masked behind compelling marketing. It is critical to research organizations before donating. If it’s going to a location other than the charity or organization specified, that is a sign of a scam. Use a charity evaluator such as to research charitable organizations and obtain contact information. Look for the group’s name and see if the words “scam” or “complaint” come up. If they do, then the “charity” could be a scam.

False investment scams

In an investment scam, criminals pose as outgoing financial advisors. They’ll call unannounced with what appears to be a lucrative investment opportunity. However, this is an attempt to extract transaction fees or steal “investments” from their victims. These scams will typically have restrictions on withdrawing your principal investment but promise high returns with little or no risk involved. Examples of investment scams include Ponzi schemes, illegitimate bonds and certificates, charitable gift annuities, and prime bank scams.

Scammers continue to become increasingly clever with ways to obtain your money. Their methods evolve and grow daily. The best advice is to ask questions, don’t give away confidential information, and confirm the situation with an outside source.

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