From The Better Business Bureau of East Texas

Fraud targeting senior citizens is a growing concern as millions have fallen victim to scammers. BBB encourages families to keep the lines of communication open to help identify suspicious spending habits and help elder family members recognize the red flags of common rip-offs.


“Having a serious conversation with senior citizens about how they are managing their money is not easy”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “But is vital in helping them to keep from falling victim to unscrupulous crooks.”


BBB warns against the following scams that commonly target senior citizens:


Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams –Typically, the victim receives a letter in the mail stating they have won a lottery or sweepstakes. The letter instructs the victim to deposit an enclosed check and then wire a portion back to the company to cover taxes or administration fees. The victim is out whatever they wired back to the scammers—often amounting to thousands of dollars.


  • BBB Advice: Never wire money to someone you don’t know. You should never have to send money to receive any winnings from a lottery or sweepstakes.


Medicare Scams – Navigating the Medicare system isn’t easy and some scammers will look for any opportunity to take advantage of the confusion. Commonly, a scammer will claim to be with Medicare and ask for personal information such as Medicare, Medicaid, social security, credit card or bank account numbers. The victim might be given any number of excuses and are tricked into providing this information.


  • BBB Advice: Remind your elderly family members that Medicare will never call to ask for sensitive personal financial information. If you suspect fraud contact your local police or the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General at 800-HHS-TIPS.


Bereavement Scams – Scammers will often try to take advantage of the increased vulnerability of senior citizens who have recently lost a loved one, such as a spouse. Some even go so low as to search for victims in the obituaries.  

  • BBB Advice: Offer help to elderly family members if they have recently lost a loved one and are inexperienced in managing finances. If you are uncertain about owing a debt when collectors call, ask for written confirmation.  

Deceptive Professionals – While many scams targeting senior citizens might not have a face, some scammers will be invited in the front door including technicians, contractors, chimney sweeps, air duct cleaners and other services. Some professionals will lie about the extent of the problem or claim safety issues and then inflate prices for unsuspecting senior customers.


  • BBB Advice – Find professionals you can trust by checking out BBB’s directory of Accredited Businesses.  Always research a company with BBB before you hand over any money and report any deceptive services to your BBB, local law enforcement and the state Attorney General.


For more advice on avoiding scams and fraud visit: To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call the BBB Hotline: (903)581-8373.