BBB: Seniors are easy targets for coronavirus-related scams

Photo: Pixabay / MGN
Photo: Pixabay / MGN(WCTV)
Published: Apr. 20, 2020 at 5:00 PM CDT
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The Better Business Bureau is receiving several reports from seniors who say they are receiving text messages from scammers posing as the U.S. Department of Health. The scammers are telling them they need to take a mandatory online COVID-19 test in order to receive the recently approved stimulus payment.

Others are receiving emails stating that they qualify for a payment and instruct them to click on a link in order to claim a check.

These schemes often manifest as someone impersonating a respected agency or government entity, like the Social Security Administration or police, insisting a potential victim act immediately or face consequences.

A report released by the BBB, FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the Stanford Center on Longevity found that the top reason people said they lose money was because the scammer “seemed official.”

“These scammers are using tactics that seniors tend to be particularly vulnerable to,” said Susan Bach, the northeast Wisconsin regional director for the BBB.

Bach joined NewsChannel 7 at 4 on Monday. She said seniors lose money more when they’re isolated. So the stay-at-home order is something that attracts scammers to seniors specifically. During this time of uncertainty, it’s the ideal time for a scammer to prey on fear.

Seniors aged 65 and over reported losing about $350 last year when falling victim to a scam. That’s more than double the loss across all age groups.

With the current coronavirus pandemic, scammers will constantly change their tactics to catch people off guard. Bach said the bottom line is don’t respond to a text, email or phone call from a sender that is unfamiliar, even if it looks official or from a respected agency.