Scammers steal more than $3 billion from retirees each year.
The median retirement savings for all workers is $97,000, according to Annuity. That’s a big cash incentive for scammers to target.
Use our guide below to prevent yourself from being added to these scammer statistics.
Current Scams Targeted Towards Retirees
Scammers love to use fear to rush you into action. As a result, many of these imposters pretend to be from the Social Security Administration, Medicare, or credit card companies. Don’t let their fake authority trick you into action.
If you answer the phone and hear, “your Social Security has been suspended, and you must do x,y,z to get it back,” that’s an almost sure sign you’re talking to a con artist.
Real Social Security employees will never threaten you with arrest or legal action, suspend your social security number, or ask you for money or personal information (like your social security number).
If you receive an unsolicited call or email claiming that your Medicare card is no longer valid, this is an immediate red flag.
Protect your Medicare number just as you would your social security number.
Your Medicare number is valuable to criminals as it enables them to steal your health benefits and file for false claims and reimbursements. Medical identity theft can cost you copayment, ruin your medical records, and cap out your benefits faster.
Medicare will never call or email you requesting personal information. If you’re ever unsure, hang up and contact Medicare directly via 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Check out this Medicare guide for additional fraud prevention tips.
Vacation deals that sound too good to be true? Did you win a million-dollar sweepstakes you don’t remember signing up for?
We’re sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s probably not legitimate.
Common scam offers include free product trials, cash prizes, cheap travel packages, medical devices, debt reduction, and low-risk, high-return investments. An unsolicited sales call from a company you have not contacted is almost certainly a scam.
Report these scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online or by phone at 1-877-382-4357 (9:00 AM – 8:00 PM, ET).
While reliable access to the internet and information has positively affected daily life, it also provides scammers with an unlimited list of potential victims.
Here are some internet scams to watch out for.
- Phishing: If someone calls, texts, emails, or mails you asking for your personal information (credit card number, passwords, etc.) — don’t give it to them. Most legitimate companies will not request unsolicited personal information this way. Instead, reach out to the business or agency on your own by using a known phone number or website.
- Malware: Scammers love trying to trick you into clicking on links that will add viruses or spyware onto your computer — usually with the promise of a free download (such as a movie or online book). Spot bad links ahead of time by hovering over them to see where they take you before clicking.
- Catfishing: Catfishers impersonate someone else online using the pictures and information of others or a fictional identity. If the person you’re communicating with online acts suspiciously (avoids video calls, solicits money, has a small online presence), they might be a fraud.
As we mentioned earlier, anything that seems too good to be true probably is!
It’s important to remember that all investments have some level of risk. Con artists often try to hook people by guaranteeing an extremely high return in a short period with little risk.
Here are some common investment scammer tactics:
- Phony CDs and Bonds
- High-pressure sales
- Fake overseas bank accounts or investments
Fake Charitable Gifts
Avoid fake charities by researching and contacting the charity directly.
If someone requests donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, employ caution. That’s a standard way scammers ask for money.
How to Spot a Scammer
While most scammers try to blend in, they usually have a few distinct characteristics that make them stand out.
Here’s what to look out for:
- A strong sense of urgency
- Requesting personal information
- Vague wording – “dear friend or dear customer in an email greeting.”
- Not wanting to meet in person
If you see any of these suspicious behaviors, put your guard up and your credit card away.
How to Report the Scammer
One of the most important parts of stopping scammers is also the most neglected.
As much as 85% of fraud and cybercrime goes unreported.
According to the FBI, senior citizens are less likely to report fraud. Many retirees are less inclined to report either because they don’t know how or they feel too ashamed of having been scammed.
Don’t let scammers guilt you into helping them hide. Reporting scams saves the next potential victim.
Help make your community a safer place by reporting any suspicious behavior.
Here are 4 easy ways to report:
- Call your local police department to file a report
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission: ReportFraud.ftc.gov
- File a report through the FBI tips website: FBI – Tips
- File a report through the Social Security Website
Ways to Avoid Scammers
It’s always easier to avoid scammers before they strike rather than clean up their messes after the fact.
Here are the 4 best ways to steer clear of con artists:
- Be suspicious! – If you’re unsure, take the time to double-check.
- Take your time – Before making significant money moves, talk it over. If someone tries to rush you, that’s a red flag.
- Protect your personal information – Never give your personal information to someone who calls or emails you.
- Don’t trust phone numbers – Phone numbers have become easy to fake. Even if it says the number is from the IRS, it might not be!
Get a Professional Opinion
There’s no need to take any unnecessary risks regarding your retirement savings.
One of the most effective ways to filter scammers from legitimate companies is by contacting a trusted professional. At Goepper Burkhardt, we have years of experience assisting those preparing for and thriving in retirement.
If you’re ever uncertain about a potential money move, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our knowledgeable financial advisors will help assuage your doubts, pick out any suspicious deals, and leave you feeling confident that your savings are protected.