Consumer protection tips for older adults: How to avoid getting scammed

Here are some tips to help you recognize the signs of a scam and help you avoid it.

Sandrina Rodrigues

Sep 14, 2023, 8:30 AM

Updated 314 days ago


Scams targeting older adults take all forms, including phone, online, mail, even in person.
The most common phone scam targeting senior citizens involves criminals posing as kidnapped or arrested family members, according to the Nassau County Police Department.
Below are some tips from the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to help you recognize the signs of a scam and help you avoid it:


Never send money to someone you don’t know based on a phone or email request. This includes wiring money or sending numbers for prepaid cards. Here is a list of some common scams. 


Never provide personal or financial information over the phone, by email, text, or on social media sites. This includes your name, date of birth, Social Security number, address, driver’s license, bank or credit card numbers, and Medicare number.


Never click on unfamiliar email links even if they are from sources you trust. 


Screen calls from unknown numbers. Never press keys on a telephone keypad during a robocall (pre-recorded message). Hang up. Are you tired of getting robocalls? These tools can help you stop the unwanted calls.


Scammers can use caller ID “spoofing” to disguise a number to appear to be someone you know or a government agency. Hang up and contact the agency or company or family member directly to confirm a story. Do not use a number given by the caller. Take the same care with email or social media. Beware of scams involving grandchildren being arrested.


Protect your computer, tablet, and smartphone against hackers. Ask a trusted source to help secure your computer, if needed.


Be wary of offers for free or discounted products, including medicines, and services from anyone you don’t know. Ask all marketing, research, or charity callers for detailed, written information that you can check yourself.


Be wary of anyone who pressures you to act on an offer or to sign a contract right away. Make sure you understand a contract before signing it. Get professional help, if needed. 


Get references from anyone offering a service. Check references. 


If you are the victim of a scam, it is important to report fraud - so others don’t become victims too. You can report it by calling your local police department and the Federal Trade Commission online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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