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Top 10 Financial Scams Targeting Retired Adults

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Senior citizens and retired adults are often prime targets for digital hackers and con artists looking to defraud those that they consider vulnerable. These criminals often try to take advantage of these individuals costing them their life savings, which can lead to debt and other financial hardships. If you know someone who is retired, learn about the leading scams targeting them and how they can be identified.


Senior retired couple enjoying coffee in kitchen together.
Yellow lightbulb with dollar sign in the middle svg icon Lesson Notes:
  • Senior citizen scams take many forms, including lottery, romance, medical, Social Security and retirement scams just to name a few.
  • These scams may be conducted over the internet, email, text message, phone and mail.

Top 10 Senior Scams

1. Government Scams

The federal government provides a range of services to retired Americans, including Social Security and Medicare. Scammers will often pose as a representative from one of these agencies to hoax the person into handing over personal information such as their Social Security number. These scammers may also pose as the IRS and claim that the person owes the government money. They try to trick seniors into giving them access to their bank accounts and other sensitive information.

2. Grandparent Scams

Grandparents love talking to their loved ones on the phone. It’s not uncommon for scammers to call elderly individuals and pose as their son, daughter or grandchild. The scammer may not even know whom they are calling until the person responds to a series of vague questions such as, “Do you know who it is?”, “Do you remember me?” or “It’s been a long time since we spoke. How’ve you been?” The caller will then ask the older person to send them money or share their personal information. They will then urge the grandparent not to tell anyone.

3. Medical Scams

Aging Americans often have health issues and require regular medical care. This care may include dozens of healthcare-related transactions every year. In a spoofing scheme, scammers may pose as a trusted representative of the Centers for Medicare Services, an insurance company or the person’s doctor or pharmacist to trick the retired individual into providing financial or medical account access. The scammer may claim the person’s medication or treatment isn’t covered by insurance, thus tricking them into paying out of pocket. They may also ask the person to share their financial information as part of the treatment or scheduling process.

4. Lottery Scams

Scammers may also contact the elderly person and tell them they have won the lottery, requiring them to share their personal information to claim their winnings. The scammer will then maliciously use their information to hack their financial account.

5. Romance Scams

Scammers may prey on seniors whose spouse has passed away or live far away from their children. Scammers may pose as someone looking for love as a way of cheating the person out of their money. The scammer may spend time messaging the person as a way of building their relationship. They will then ask the person to send them money so they can meet in person.

6. Phishing Scams

In phishing scams, hackers also use advanced technology to replicate messages and websites, so they look legitimate and that they’re actually coming from their financial institution They may copy and paste a company’s logo to defraud the person into sharing their personal information online. The retired person will enter their username, password, name or credit card number thinking they are talking to an official representative.

7. Credit Union and Bank Scams

Scammers will also pose as the person’s bank or credit union to defraud them out of their savings. They may claim the person’s account has been hacked or overdrawn. They will then ask the person to verify their identity by giving away their personal information. As a reminder, Ent and its affiliates, vendors and regulators will never ask you to verify your account number, Social Security number, debit or credit card number, PIN, Online Banking credentials or any other sensitive financial information via email, telephone or SMS text message.

8. Credit Card Scams

Scammers may also try to entice the person with a low-interest credit card. If the senior needs money, they may be tempted to sign up for a new card or account by giving away their personal information.

9. Gift Card Scams

Seniors tend to use coupons and gift cards more than other types of consumers. Some scammers may pose as a retailer or credit card company to deceive the person into thinking that they have won a gift card or discount. They will ask the person to share their personal information, so they can mail them their winnings.

10. Charity Scams

Many seniors choose to donate to charity as they run out of ways to spend their money. Scammers may pose as a charitable or non-profit organization to ask the person for money, especially if they know the person has donated in the past. The senior will then send money to the hacker by mistake.

Senior citizen scams are becoming more popular as the baby boomers continue to age and retire. Watch out for these financial scams to protect your elderly and retired loved ones from fraud and abuse. If you have received a suspicious communication from Ent, do not respond to it in any way. Contact our Information Security Team so that we can take the proper steps to ensure your security.  Find more information about information security and fraud prevention on Ent’s Security Center.


Helpful Resources

If you suspect an elderly loved one is the victim of fraud, check out these resources:




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