Written by Annie Douglas | 06/13/2024

Caution is Key as Scams are on the Rise

Who can forget the sound of dial up internet in the 90s? Now you can carry a computer that weighs less than a pound in your pocket that gives you instantaneous access to almost everything.

Technological advances over the last several decades have been exponential, resulting in sometimes drastic differences in both skill and comfort levels between the older and younger generations. There are young adults who don’t know a world without iPhones and social media; whereas, more senior adults may struggle to learn or keep up with newer devices, software updates, and platforms. Quickly evolving tools may be less familiar or make some feel increasingly uncomfortable. Unfortunately, criminals prey on this discomfort, and are especially targeting the older generation through the use of technology.

To protect ourselves and older family members, here are some things to keep in mind:

Confusion and Pressure

Scams that target older adults are designed to confuse and put pressure on them to take action quickly. If anyone finds themselves in a situation where they feel this way, they should immediately disconnect (whether that be from an online correspondence or a telephone call). A fear of being impolite should not deter them from ending the conversation if they experience any red flags.

Sharing Information

We should all be very hesitant to share information and especially careful about HOW we share information. Safe ways to communicate include over the phone to someone familiar, or even in person at a business. Banks, the IRS, the Social Security Administration, and other similar entities will never email to ask for personal information or to verify a bank account or credit card. If a phone number is provided via email or online to call, it is always a good idea to find the number from a different source: the number on the back of your debit card in the case of needing to contact the bank. Alternatively, it could be helpful to loop in a trusted friend or relative to independently search for the customer service number.

Unsolicited Contact

It is not a bad idea to be a bit suspicious of unsolicited emails, websites, and calls from unknown sources. While the internet and tech can be great resources for access and staying connected, it does provide many new opportunities for bad actors, so we need to be careful to protect ourselves and our information.

After being Scammed

When individuals realize they have been tricked by a scammer, many feel embarrassed for having been fooled and are resistant to telling family or the authorities what has happened. It is important to know that this is unfortunately VERY common, because these schemes have become increasingly sophisticated. Scammers are counting on this embarrassment to deter people from reporting these crimes. It is critical to report this fraud to the police and involve a trusted friend or family member to help sort it out and prevent further damage.  

Other proactive steps to protect your finances are as follows:

  • An individual can freeze their credit with Experian, Equifax, and Transunion to prevent fraudsters from being able to open a line of credit or secure a loan in your name. Access the credit freezes through the links provided below:


  • Tax Return PINs can now be requested from the IRS for anyone concerned about identity theft. This was a measure the IRS instituted after an alarming uptick in fraudulent tax returns requesting refunds. Talk to your CPA about adding this protection.
  • Create unique and lengthy passwords for different internet sites and store these passwords either on paper (not near the computer) or in a secure password management system.

Regardless of your education, age or financial resources, it is important to know that scams have become more frequent and difficult to avoid. No one is immune from this, so it is critical to take proactive steps to secure your private information and to be cautious and remain on alert. Visit www.ncoa.org/article/top-5-financial-scams-targeting-older-adults to familiarize yourself with the latest scams.