Watch Out for these Internet Scams

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Watch Out for these Internet Scams

15 September 2021

Your phone rings. It’s the local hospital with terrible news–your grandson has been hit by a car, and needs emergency surgery. Will you provide your credit card number to cover the cost? You say yes without hesitation, but later you learn the truth: you’ve been scammed. The call was a fake, and now the scammer has racked up thousands of false charges.

Watch Out for these Internet Scams

Scenarios like this are all too common. Senior people are a major target for scammers. With their good credit, retirement funds, and paid-off homes, older adults often fall prey to con artists. Knowing what to look out for can help you avoid scams. Read this list to learn about common senior scams and how you can avoid them.

Fake prescriptions

The internet can be a great place to find discount prescription drugs, but seniors have to be extremely careful of scams. Victims of these types of scams on the elderly may pay money for ineffective pills, or worse, unsafe substances that can hurt them.


Seniors as a group make twice as many purchases over the phone than other people. Telemarketing scammers might solicit money for a fake charity, pretend to be a hospital needing money for a relative’s terrible accident, or tell the victim that he or she can come into a large sum of money simply by wiring a “good faith” payment into the scammer’s bank account. This last type of scammer might work with another scammer pretending to be a lawyer or bank representative.

Internet fraud

Since many seniors aren’t well-versed in new technology, many internet scams target this group. A pop-up window might tell you that you need new virus software to protect your computer. But downloading the software will release a virus into your hard drive and steal your personal information, such as bank account numbers.

Other common internet scams on the elderly take the form of an email telling you that you need to update your personal information for security. This email can appear to be from your bank, Centrelink, ATO or Department of Health, but it isn’t.

Grandparents scam

A scammer calls and says, “Hi ....., guess who this is!” When Grandma reels off the name of a grandchild, the scammer has established a fake identity. He then tells Grandma he’s desperate for rent money, or needs money for fuel. Often, he’ll beg Grandma to keep it a secret from his parents. Grandma sends the money to an account, and it’s gone forever.

Investment and home loan scams

A scammer will invite seniors to a “free lunch” investment seminar or contact them with an offer to help them renegotiate their mortgage. But both offers are bogus: the scammer takes the money and runs.

The home improvement scam

A repairman knocks on a senior’s door and says, “Ma’am, your roof needs to be repaired–right away. One more rainy day and it may fall down” Once the work is done, the victim finds out that the price is much higher than the original quote, or the roof is left full of holes.

How to Avoid Being Scammed

Protect yourself from scammers by taking a few precautions. Never give money to solicitors. If you get an email from your bank or other organization asking for personal information, always call to verify the query. Never give out personal information over the phone, unless you made the call. Always write cheques for investments to a company or firm, never to an individual (better still never write out the cheque). And always make sure to shred documents with your credit card number, pension number, or other personal information.

Above all, stay alert for scams on the elderly and approach any requests for your money with caution.