Retirement & Financial Planning Report

A caller pretending to be from the IRS and falsely accusing people of owing back taxes and penalties is the top scam targeting older persons and remains persistent despite recent law enforcement crackdowns, according to the Senate Committee on Aging.

And despite those crackdowns, “the rise of new technology has made it easier for scammers to contact and deceive consumers and has rendered the Do-Not-Call registry ineffective in many ways,” said a report that follows hearings into a number of types of scams.


Other persistent scams targeting older persons include:

* Sweepstakes scams in which victims are told they have won a lottery but that to claim their winnings they must pay a fee.

* “Grandparent scams,” in which the caller pretends to be a family member, commonly a grandchild, and claims to be in urgent need or money to cover an emergency, medical care, or a legal problem.

* Computer scams, in which the caller pretends to represent a well-known technology company and attempts to convince victims to provide them with access to their computers.

* Romance scams, in which a caller has gained an individual’s trust over a long period of time requests money to pay for an unexpected bill, an emergency, or another alleged expense or to come visit the victim.

“A new scam to make the top 10 list for 2017 involves consumers receiving calls in which the caller would simply ask “Are you there?” or “Can you hear me?” in order to prompt the recipient to say “yes.” According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), these illegal robocalls are pre-recorded, and are designed to identify numbers that consumers are likely to answer, allowing scammers to better identify and connect with potential victims. The increased use of this tactic by scammers in robocalls last year demonstrates how sophisticated scammers are,” it said.