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In 2018, Congress passed a resolution designating May 15 as National Senior Fraud Awareness Day in recognition of the ever rising rate of financial fraud targeting senior citizens.

Did you know?

  • There are roughly 49 million senior citizens (age 65+) in the U.S., about 15% of the population
  • Financial fraud targeting seniors has become so widespread, it is now often referred to as “the crime of the 21st century”
  • The Government Accountability Office estimates seniors lose a collective $2.9 billion on average each year to an ever-growing list of financial exploitation schemes and scams
  • The median loss to victims age 80 and older averages $1,092 per person

Why target senior citizens?

  • Even though low-income seniors are often victims, there’s an assumption that seniors are more likely to have a significant amount of money in their accounts
  • Seniors are often more trusting, generally less familiar with technology, and make purchases over the phone at more than double the national average
  • Easy access can also play a role since more than 90% of reported elder abuse crimes in general, including financial, are committed by a family member

Top 10 Senior Scams

Although there are countless scams and ways to commit financial fraud, the National Council on Aging ( lists the top 10 financial scams targeting seniors:

  1. Medicare/Health Insurance – Callers often pose as a Medicare representative asking for personal or financial information from victims
  2. Counterfeit Prescription Drugs – With seniors often looking for better pricing on medications, many fall victim to online scams, including products that don’t work or may actually cause harm
  3. Funeral/Cemetery – According to the FBI, scammers will often read obituaries and then call or attend a funeral service to advantage of the grieving widow or widower by claiming the deceased owed them money
  4. Fraudulent Anti-Aging Products – Seniors seek treatments and medications that often don’t work in an effort to maintain a more youthful appearance
  5. Telemarketing/Phone Scams – Fake charities, bogus IRS demands, and fraudulent pleas for money to help a relative with a medical or legal emergency are common
  6. Internet Fraud – Seniors are not generally as adept at newer technology making them easier targets for scams using pop-up windows, including bogus anti-virus products, as well as phishing emails posing as legitimate companies/financial institutions asking for personal information
  7. Investment Schemes – As seniors plan for retirement and search for ways to safeguard their money, scammers will often try to lure them into complex financial products, pyramid schemes, or even fairy tales of a foreign prince willing to share wealth for a small investment
  8. Homeowner/Reverse Mortgage – Seniors considering reverse mortgages should be cautions and mindful of those pressuring them to obtain the reverse mortgage who may also benefit from it
  9. Sweepstakes/Lottery – Scammers may provide a check representing “winnings” for deposit into a senior’s account, immediately collecting money for fees or taxes before the check bounces
  10. The Grandparent Scam – Scammers posing as a grandchild ask to borrow money in an emergency and have it sent via Western Union or MoneyGram, which doesn’t always require an ID to collect