Top Scams to Lookout for on Senior Citizens Day


Columbus — National Senior Citizens Day is August 21st, and BBB wants seniors to beware of scams happening around Central Ohio. Although seniors are often told of the different ways they will be targeted, scammers still successfully fool consumers each day – no matter the age.

The following are top scams designed to trick consumers, especially older generations, into giving up their money, property or personal information:

1. Romance Scam: BBB warns anyone looking for love to be wary of romance scams. Because scammers are constantly looking for vulnerabilities, romance scams can easily happen to anyone. Many romance scams start with scammers creating fake profiles on social media or online dating sites by stealing photos and text from real accounts. Scammers may claim to be in the military or working overseas to explain why they cannot meet face-to-face. After the scammer builds a relationship, they may say they have an emergency and will ask for money.

2. The Grandparent Scam: Scammers call an older person and say something such as, “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” Responding with a name will allow the scammer to be able to establish a false identity, then ask for money to solve some unexpected problem. They may say, “I’m stranded on spring break,” or “I’ve been arrested” or “hospitalized” and need money for medical purposes, to get out of jail, or to get back home. They’ll generally ask for payments to be paid via Western Union, MoneyGram, MoneyPak cards, or other untraceable methods. They’ll also usually state that his or her voice sounds different due to the accident or crisis, and ask that the grandparent not tell their parents.

3. Charitable Donations Scams: Con artists claiming to work with a charity will ask for donations or money for raffles. Make donations only to charities that you are familiar with, and whose report you’ve checked with BBB’s Charity website. Don’t give into high-pressure situations. Trustworthy charities will give donors time to think about their charitable gifts. When you do make a donation to a charity, do research on how your donation is going to be used and if there is a portion that goes to something other than the cause you’re donating to.

4. Sweepstakes Scam: If you have been told that you won a sweepstakes, you should not have to pay any money in order to claim your prize. This includes taxes, shipping and handling charges or any other types of fees. Remember that you also have to play to win. If you have been notified that you won a contest you never entered, then that is a red flag. Real sweepstakes will also not contact you via text or bulk mail. They would not send you a check in the mail without first contacting you, and will not give you a time limit to claim your prize.

5. Robocalls: As seniors switch from landlines to cellphones, they may get increasingly frustrated at the number of robocalls they continue to receive. BBB urges consumers to not answer phone calls for numbers you do not recognize. If the call is important, they will leave a voicemail message. Robocalls are becoming more advanced, and a robot could very easily sound like a person. Instead, they could be recording your conversation and trying to capture personal information. Be wary of any caller who tries to bait you into giving a “yes” answer, asking questions such as: “Can you hear me?” Your voice may be used to approve charges later.

Consumers are encouraged to report scams to BBB Scam Tracker to help protect others in the Central Ohio community.

For more information, follow your BBB on Facebook, Twitter, and at bbb.org.

About BBB

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central Ohio, which was founded in 1921 and serves 21 counties in Central Ohio.

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