7 common scams targeting seniors

Scams targeting older adults are on the rise, but being informed and knowing how to spot the signs can reduce your risk of falling prey to one.

Here are seven common scams to watch out for according to Royal Bank of Canada:

  1. Romance scams
    Initiated on dating or social media sites, scammers build relationships over time before asking for large sums of money. The perpetrator says they can’t video chat for technical reasons, but it’s because a video call would reveal that they aren’t who they say they are.
  2. Sweepstakes scams
    Scammers claim you won a lottery or other prize, but you must pay taxes or fees to claim the prize. It’s often a contest or lottery the victim never even entered.
  3. Grandparent scams
    Impersonating a relative, often a grandchild, the fraudster phones in a panic saying they’re in trouble and need money to be sent immediately. The phone is then handed to their “attorney” or “representative” before you can clearly recognize the voice. Often the fraudster will say “Don’t tell my parents,” and “You’re the only one who can help.”
  4. Computer software or virus scams
    A pop-up ad or email says your computer has been hacked and demands payment from you. Once you engage, they use extreme pressure tactics to push for more funds or gift cards.
  5. Government agency scams
    The scammer impersonates someone from the Canada Revenue Agency or another government agency, demanding payment or a transfer of funds so you can avoid a penalty or jail time.
  6. Gift card scam
    If someone posing as a legitimate source or business asks you to pay for something by putting money on a gift card, it’s a scam. They say it’s urgent, may tell you to purchase several different gift cards, and then ask you to share the gift card number and pin. Once you do, your money is gone.
  7. Undercover investigation scam
    Criminals pose as legitimate sources like law enforcement or your bank and trick you into providing money to help with a criminal investigation. There are many variations, but the scammer often claims they are investigating an employee at a bank branch and they need the victim to withdraw a large sum of money to be used as evidence. It may happen over multiple days. The victim is told not to tell anyone they’re involved and that the money will be returned. Remember, a business, government agency or your bank will never ask you to participate in an undercover operation to prevent fraud.

To help avoid becoming a victim of one of these scams, remember to think twice, ask questions and take your time if something doesn’t feel right.

Find more information on how to protect yourself at rbc.com/privacysecurity.

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