How Can Seniors Avoid Getting Scammed?

by Lisa Conway

Unwary seniors make excellent targets for con artists. Seniors often live alone, have great credit and are not cyber savvy.  

An 84-year-old client called me one morning, panicked after giving out her credit card number over the phone. She had been overwhelmed by the caller. We immediately contacted her bank and stopped payment.

According to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, con artists:

  • Force you to make decisions fast and may be threatening
  • Disguise their real phone numbers, using fake caller IDs and identities
  • Sometimes pretend to be a government agency
  • Try to get personal information like your Social Security number or account numbers

The Top 5 Recent Florida Scams:

  1. Social Security Impersonation Scam- Consumers receive calls from individuals claiming to represent the Social Security Administration.
  2. Romance Scam- The romance scammer contacts the victim through social media or email. After spending time on the “relationship,” they ask for money.
  3. Sweepstakes Scam- Fraudsters usually contact the victims by phone or mail to tell them about a great prize they’ve won — but require the victim to pay a fee to collect their winnings.
  4. Consumer- This broad category includes automated “robo-calls” that request information like social security or account numbers.
  5. Grandparent Scam- Imposters pretend to be the victim’s grandchild or a police officer –then claim the grandchild needs money for a made up emergency.

The Committee on Aging suggests asking a friend or family member before giving out your credit card or money –and to beware of offers for free travel or other items!

Want more tips? Join One Senior Place on May 16 for Suspect — and Protect Yourself From Scams, presented by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Dept. and the Florida Division of Consumer Services. RSVP online or by calling 321-751-6771 .

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging. Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse, Certified Dementia Practitioner and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera. Ms. Conway hosts a monthly seminar, ‘Senior Health Friday with Nurse Lisa.’