[First posted on Nov 2018, see an update below]
It is truly heartbreaking to read in the news or hear on the npr that a senior citizen got ripped off of all the life’s savings. Perhaps this was always happening but I happen to come across quite often lately. By some estimates that the consumer fraud in US is around $50Billion annually. Very sad that people don’t pay more attention to the old saying – ‘if it is too good to be true, it probably is!’
Everyone knows the common forms of scams that target people of all ages: you are told that you have inherited lot of money from a nigerian prince or you won a huge lottery and all you have to do is send a trivial amount from your bank account and the money is yours! But lately the scammers have become very sophisticated and creative, as the scammers play on seniors’ emotions and greed, for example:
- Latest gift card scams involve where, a grandkid (fake) in distress calls the grandparent to send them some money via, a gift card, i.e. the grand parent buys a gift card and gives out the number/pin via phone
- Scammers make calls that look like they are from tax authorities (IRS) or send texts that appear in the same thread from a bank, asking them to pay up
- Create/post jobs where the you have to buy expensive digital devices (ipad, iphone) and ship them while they reimburse you for the price & commission, which the scammers reimburse for couple of weeks and disappear & while you are left with huge credit card bill
As you can see, the list can go on and on. In olden days, it was always thought the people who fall for it are completely responsible for the losses but now with the nature of scams and how they leverage the latest tech, it might be time to think of tech giants and banks as responsible parties and how they should seriously work on prevention.
It is a hard problem to crack as emotions of senior citizens are involved and it is not something that they are easily shared, as they cant appear to be taken advantage of. But we need to chip away by developing solutions for each type of scam one at a time.
Good luck to all the Pieneers! As always, if you know of anyone or any startup working on this, please let me know, I will update this post.
Update – 1/10/2022. Looks like the scams are becoming more prevalent not just in the US but around the globe too. “Phone calls from tricksters claiming to be taxmen almost doubled in number last year, according to UK Finance, a trade association of banks. Other countries show increases at least as dramatic.”
[Image Credit: Thanks to geralt via Pixabay]