As part of World Elder Abuse Awareness Month, the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection has unveiled a guide aimed at safeguarding seniors against scams. “Older adults are a vital part of our families and communities, yet they’re frequently targeted by scammers,” stated Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. He emphasized the guide’s role in spotting and halting scams before causing irreversible damage.
The guide outlines various prevalent scams, with fraudsters increasingly viewing senior citizens as susceptible targets with ready cash. Some scams feature fraudsters claiming victims have won sweepstakes prizes, free medical devices, or grant money, using these ruses to gather sensitive information. Others impersonate government officials, threatening victims with arrests for unpaid taxes or missed jury duty. Infamous scams include the ‘grandparent scam’, where the fraudster poses as a grandchild in trouble, and scams that exploit recent bereavements, with hackers stealing personal information or even the identities of the deceased.
To counter these scams, the guide urges caution. Immediate reaction to dramatic phone calls or emails should be resisted until the caller’s identity can be verified, and cash, gift cards, or personal information should never be shared via phone or email. It reminds that the IRS and legitimate entities never reach out via calls or emails first, and that incoming phone numbers can be spoofed. It advises immediate disconnection if a call seems suspicious. For further assistance, a brochure on avoiding scams is available on the Department of State’s website, and suspected scams can be reported online or by phone at 1-800-697-1220.
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