The Financial Scams Aimed at Seniors that You NEED to Know


Criminals will stop at nothing to gain access to personal or financial information. This has led to a disturbing amount of scams aimed directly at seniors.

Why seniors? They don’t always have the best memory, and are often raised to be polite and courteous, even to complete strangers. This gives criminals an immediate advantage when going after senior citizens.

Criminals most often contact seniors through email or over the phone. To help keep the seniors in our communities financially safe, we want to share some of the most common scams with you to pass along to your aging family members and friends.

Email phishing

In phishing attempts, criminals will send you emails that look legitimate; they will include the logo of a well-known company (like Putnam Bank) and email addresses or phone numbers for you to contact. They will ask you to “re-enroll” or “confirm” some sort of action using personal information, or they will tell you to take action “or your account will be closed.” Links in phishing emails will lead you to webpages with viruses or trojans coded in to search your computer for valuable information.  

Fake IRS scam

In this scam, a person calls you and claims to be an agent from the IRS. They threaten jail time, fines and lawsuits if “unpaid taxes” aren’t dealt with.

Health care scam

Scammers call claiming they work with Medicare or your health insurance company to try and gain access to your personal information. They often call back claiming they have talked to a son or daughter and that it is okay to provide them with Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers or personal information.

Unprincipled financial advisers

We’ve all heard the horror stories with characters like Bernie Madoff. It’s important to research investment professionals and pay attention to the money going into and out of your account.

Great grandchild scam

You will get a call that starts with, “Hi Grandma, do you know this is?” They wait for you to say a name, then search the name on the Internet while on the phone. They then proceed to ask for money.

Prescription and anti-aging drug scam

Seniors are far more susceptible to these type of scams. As the price of prescription drugs continues to increase, many seniors look online to find cheaper medicine. However, these are not always legitimate, or the scammers simply don’t deliver the drugs.

Obituary scans

Con artists will read the obituary pages of the local newspaper and call the deceased relative’s family. They demand outstanding debts, “recent purchases” or other items that require immediate payment.

Funeral and cemetery plot scams

Financial advisers aren’t the only ones who can be dishonest. Funeral homes have also been caught selling expensive caskets to those who don’t need them and adding unnecessary charges to bills.

Awareness of scams and tricks criminals use is the first defense in keeping our older family members and friends safe. Be sure to share the above scams with them and talk to them about what to do if they think they are victims of fraud.

Together we can help keep our seniors safe so they can live the peaceful and trouble-free lives they deserve.

Putnam Bank, Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC