How to spot the four most common scams against the elderly

Q: I’ve heard for a while now about seniors being cheated or tricked out of their money. Out of state, I have some in-laws that are getting up in age, and I want to make sure that they don’t fall for any of these scams. What are some good precautions I should be telling them to take?

A: Scams against the elderly have been on the rise in the past few years. It’s important to keep a closer eye on the older members of your family to make sure they don’t get caught up in any suspicious business deals and scams. I could talk all day about these scams, but for the sake of time, here’s a list of major scams that BBB suggests you keep your eyes peeled for:

Grandparent – A grandparent is called by a “family member” who claims to be in trouble and wants the grandparent to send money right away. A good counter is to quiz the caller and ask them things like their name or birth date, first pet, etc. Though, this is not a sure-win strategy. You’d be surprised how often these imposters will do their homework. Some will know random details about the family member’s life to try and prove their identity, information they usually get from social media accounts. In these cases, it’s best just to hang up.

Health insurance – Scammers will either go door-to-door or call the victims, introducing themselves as a Medicare representative or adviser. Most of the time, these scammers will use their cover story to steal money or the personal information from the victim. The solution to this is to never give out personal information to unsolicited individuals who visit your home or call.

Sweepstakes/lottery – An unsolicited caller informs you that you’ve won a large sum of money. Usually then, they’ll explain that to claim your prize, they either need you to wire them money, or give them your credit card information, sometimes both. Falling for this scam can often increase the likelihood of being targeted by other scammers in the future. Just remember this: how can you win a contest if you never entered it?

Tech Support – No doubt one of the worst. A “tech support specialist” will call you and claim tha there is a virus on your computer, or there is a program that needs to be installed or uninstalled. This usually ends with the “tech support specialist” doing nothing and making off with the money paid to them, or they might install malware onto the computer to steal your personal information by handing over remote access to your computer.

You can find more information on these scams, as well as other prominent senior scams by going online at If you’ve been scammed, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at AND report it to us at

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems toAction Line at the BetterBusiness Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or