How to Avoid Elder Fraud – A Guide for Older People

Abeerah Hashim  - Security Expert
Last updated: November 12, 2023
Read time: 23 minutes

Our elderly fellow citizens are the target of elder financial fraud that may inflict massive losses on the most influential persons in their environments. This article explains what elder fraud is and how to keep it away from your loved ones.

Sadly, the elders of any society are the most vulnerable social groups regarding digital security. The threat actors are too cruel to target naïve elder netizens with various fraudulent schemes, ripping them out of their money. Nonetheless, today’s more advanced and young users can protect their elders from such scams by making them aware of the existing threats. Likewise, staying a little conscious on the internet can also help senior internet users to avoid elder frauds and scams.

Elder financial abuse, elder financial exploitation, or elder fraud is the usurpation of financial resources that harms an elderly victim. In most cases, it occurs in a relationship where the perpetrator holds a privileged position or is highly trusted.

FBI concluded as the elderly population keeps increasing, elder fraud has become a growing problem. As a result, the financial damage ascends to 3 billion USD annually. But those reported cases don’t represent even the tip of the iceberg. Other, more profound studies and estimations put the number of instances more on the five-million line and the economic damage at 27.4 billion USD. So, the reality could be one or two orders of magnitude above the official figures.

Given the severity of the issue, this article digs deeper into the subject of elder fraud. Today, you’ll know what an elderly fraud is, why the elderly are such a juicy target for scammers, and how you can help the seniors around you to stay safe from con artists.

Common elder fraud types – Quick list

  1. Fraudulent investment plans. The elderly need investments that pay fast. That’s how they get defrauded.
  2. Insurance fraud scams. Even legitimate, licensed insurance agents have been known to practice this scam.
  3. Grandparent scams. An alleged grandchild calls grandpa or grandma to ask for some money urgently.
  4. Lottery frauds. The fraudsters convince you about winning some lottery that you had not noticed.
  5. Charity-justified fraud. Even fraud can happen for the sake of a seemingly good cause.
  6. Health-related scams. The increased need for health services and resources, like the elderly, allows scammers to come in.
  7. Identity theft. The ultimate hacker currency are alternate identities.
  8. IRS-related schemes. A scammer calls impersonating an IRS officer. Fear does the rest.
  9. Reverse mortgage systems. These are not scams, in theory. They are legitimate financial instruments. However, they can escalate so quickly as to break the user.
  10. Widow schemes. Probably the most inhumane scam, it takes advantage of the confusion a recent mourner experiences after the loss.
  11. Romance scams. Loneliness in the elderly makes them vulnerable to the abuse of persons pretending to have a romantic interest in them.
  12. Tech support frauds. An impersonator tries to gain remote access to your system and manipulate it to steal information in the future.
  13. Anti-aging products scams. Vanity is a terrible reason for suffering a fraud, but it happens.