How to Protect Your Senior Loved One from Financial Scams

By Katie Petrassi

We’ve probably all heard the story of a senior getting a call in the early morning hours from someone claiming to be their grandchild, who has been arrested/is in some sort of trouble and needs help making bail. This supposed grandchild says all the right things- calls the senior by his or her affectionate name (Mimi, Gigi, Pop, Grandpa) and convinces the senior that they are calling because they can’t bear to call their parents and disappoint them. “Would you please help me Mimi and send me the money?”

In the confusion and upset of the late hour and hearing what they assume to be their distraught grandchild, the senior agrees to send the money either by giving the credit card information directly over the phone or responding to a text or email link that is sent to them. Having sent the thousands of dollars usually requested, the grandchild hangs up thanking them profusely.

But, in the cold morning light, the senior starts to wonder – “was that really my grandchild?” So, they call their son or daughter to check in and see if they are OK and low and behold, it wasn’t their grandchild at all. It was a clever, unrelenting criminal network that preys on seniors using this type of scam. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2021, there were 92,371 older victims of financial scams, resulting in $1.7 billion in losses.[1]

The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging lists 5 key financial scams targeting America’s seniors today[2]:

  • Government Impersonation Scams
  • Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams
  • Robocalls and Phone Scams
  • Computer Tech Support Scams
  • The Grandparent Scam (referenced above)

To protect your senior loved one or yourself, it is important to be aware of the types of scams that are used as well as taking steps to ensure you do not become a victim.

  • Never answer the phone for numbers you do not recognize/don’t return calls to numbers you do not recognize
  • Work with your bank or financial institution – the better they know you as their customer, the more quickly they will flag fraudulent activity on your account(s)
  • Have a trusted advisor, friend, or family member regularly review your banking accounts with you
  • Never provide confidential information (Social Security number, banking information, etc.) to anyone you do not know either via the phone or in writing
  • When in doubt, do NOT give out information!! Seek wise counsel before proceeding

Taking the steps above to help ensure your protection or that of your loved one is vital in this age.

[1] 2021 Elder Fraud Report, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Found on the internet at

[2] Top 5 Scams Targeting Our Nation’s Seniors Since 2015 (2021), U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. Found on the internet at