5 Fraud Categories that Older Adults Must Know

Frauds and Schemes Targeting Adults 60+ Are Widespread

senior fraud
Protect yourself from these shady characters. Understand senior fraud and abuse schemes. Getty Images

Frauds and Schemes targeting adults over 60 are so widespread that they’re now considered “the crime of the 21st century” according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Scammers target the older group because it’s believed that they have a significant amount of disposable income, savings, and other resources sitting around. Here are 5 fraud categories that older adults must know.

It’s not just the high-income adults under fire; the older individuals with fewer resources and low-income are at risk of fraud abuse also.

And unfortunately, the perpetrators are not strangers; NCOA says that 90% of the reported elder abuse occurs by the person’s family members, most often adult children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and others.

Seniors don’t report the crimes, so it’s difficult to prosecute. Senior care professionals know that frauds and schemes will devastate older adults and leave them vulnerable. So, what can this group do to prepare better and take a stand against abuse? Aging experts believe education is the first step to fighting back. Seniorcare.com asked the experts, “Name one type of fraud and scheme that seniors fall victim to but may not be conscious of when it’s happening?”

Home Scams

Ginalisa Monterroso, Medicaid Advisory Group - Free inspection scams since seniors are concerned about keeping their homes weather-tight. Scammers offer free inspections, and they will always find a problem that needs an expensive solution.


Alex Chamberlain, Easy Living FL - In our area, home repair scams remain popular. A friendly person comes around and preys on the elder's politeness. Often, they fix or install something without a need or change up to 3 times the standard price (or they leave the job undone/take the deposit, etc.).

Data Fraud

Michelle Jeong, Reminder Rosie - Top of mind is data fraud. Many seniors often give too much information out and fall victim to identity theft.

Steve Hays, Artower Advisory - Social Security or IRS scams that frequently happen to seniors and other age segments of the population.  I had an IRS fraud when a group filed an amended tax return to obtain underserved refund years ago.  

Shannon Martin, Aging Wisely - Schemes related to Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance—sometimes are basic phishing schemes to get personal information (often spike after some change in programs) or sometimes a scam service or just talking people into a program that isn't best for them.


David Mordehi, Advise & Protect – A phone scheme referred to as the Grandparent Scam.  The caller sounds endearing, as they say, “Hi Grandma, remember me?  I’ve missed you so much!” During the conversation, the scammer requests money through a non-verified source that is unable to confirm identities. 

Bryan London, Best Care Jobs - This is very unsettling--people show up at the front door and say they are with either the phone, water or electric company. They dress the part and ask to come in to check on things, but the real motive is robbery.

Make sure to check ID's and do not open the door if you do not know who that person is. Be cautious!

Nancy Ruffner, Navigate NC - It’s the social filters of emotion, cognition, and reasoning that’s compromised and tough to mitigate. A common one is the old flat-tire-may-I-use-your-phone-my-wife-is-pregnant, or whatever. I blow past you when the door opens and have my way with you and your home. There’s an uptick in phone scams this time of year. As it grows dark earlier, we are inside and answering our phones.


Donna Schempp, Eldercare Specialists - Nonprofits send more requests for money after you donate to them.

  Seniors often forget that they have contributed and give again. It’s hard to to get off a nonprofit’s mailing list, and even though the causes may be good ones; it is important to select a time of each year, e.g. the end of the year, and only donate once to the organizations you want to support.

Family and Friends

Connie Chow, Daily Caring - Family, close friends, or paid caregivers can exploit the trust. When a senior has dementia, it’s even easier for black sheep family members or unscrupulous caregivers to manipulate them.

Find help:

Anthony Cirillo, The Aging Experience - The National Council on Aging, is a useful resource when fighting against all forms of abuse.

About Carol Marak

Carol Marak is a senior and family caregiver advocate. She is the editor for SeniorCare.com and writes for many online publications offering information on current aging trends and help. She helped publish America has a Major Misconception on Aging, a report to help consumers plan for long-term care.

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