When you think of scams that target people “of a certain age,” you might think that only applies to the elderly. That’s not always the case. As online scammers get more sophisticated, they continue to develop new age-related scams to take advantage of you – whether you are 20, 40, or 80. Here are some common scams, broken down by the age of the most vulnerable victims:
Check Fraud: Millennials Beware
When it comes to online scams, millennials can sometimes be even more vulnerable than the elderly. The Federal Trade Commission reports that in 2017, twice as many millennials reported fraud than people over 60. And the Better Business Bureau says check fraud is one of the most frequent scams played on adults age 25 to 34.
In one common type of trick, scammers offer to hire you as a mystery shopper to submit reviews on local businesses. After paying you for a couple of small assignments, they will get you to make a major transaction and pocket the proceeds. In one scam, the victim was assigned to review a money-transfer business. Following instructions, he cashed a $2,900 check sent by the scammer and wired the money back to them. By the time his bank notified him that the check didn’t clear, it was too late. The victim ended up owing the bank $2,900, and the scammer made off with the money.
Boomers and Gen Xers: Watch Out for Catfish
Experts say catfish tactics have evolved beyond the Nigerian princes who “love you truly” and ask that you please wire large sums of cash. Romance scams often target adults who have saved up some money and are looking for love online. Fall for a catfish, and you could end up broken- hearted – or just plain broke.
The growing popularity of online dating among mature adults makes this group particularly vulnerable. Here are four signs of catfishing to look out for:
- Someone seems too good to be true. All of us have flaws. If you meet someone with none, it might be a sign that you need to dig a little deeper.
- Their online history is new or incomplete. Social media has been around now for more than a decade. If someone has only a very recent online presence, it may be because their profile is not the real deal.
- They express their feelings for you quickly. Catfish typically like to move in on their prey as soon as they feel the moment is right, but real romance takes time to bloom. Be wary if someone expresses their love right away.
- They won’t meet in person. This one is big. If a person is using an online image and/or identity that is not their own, they will always have an excuse why they can’t meet you in person. If your romantic partner won’t meet face to face, beware.
Healthcare Scams Target Seniors
As people age, they’re more likely to need medical services and prescription drugs. It should come as no surprise, then, that health-related scams typically target seniors. According to the National Council on Aging, two top scams seniors face today are Medicare scams and prescription drug scams.
In many Medicare scams, crooks pose as Medicare representatives searching for your personal information. Other times, the scammers may be running bogus mobile healthcare units, providing useless or even harmful services and billing Medicare for them.
Selling fake prescription medications online is another way scammers take advantage of older consumers. If you are purchasing prescription drugs online for less money than your pharmacy charges, be warned. You may be taking fake pills that won’t help you get better – and might even make you sick.
Protect Yourself at Every Age
Next time you think internet scams only target the elderly, think again. Crime knows no age limit. The best way to protect yourself from any scam is to do your research, and never, ever send money to someone or something you can’t verify.