Nebraska AARP Warns of Elder Fraud and Scams Signs on Wednesday Townhall

April 27, 2022, 5:30 p.m. ·

The title screen for a Nebraska AARP tele-townhall
Nebraska AARP hosted a tele-townhall Wednesday, featuring a member of the Federal Trade Commission. (Courtesy Nebraska AARP)

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Nebraskans lost more than $14 million to scams and fraud last year, according to Federal Trade Commission complaints. Nebraska’s AARP invited the director of the FTC’s Midwest region to inform elderly Nebraskans about protection from scammers on Wednesday.

Elderly populations are more likely to report financial losses from fraud, the FTC’s Todd Kossow said Wednesday. He said the most common complaints are imposter scams, where the caller claims to be a loved one or a government agency asking for money.

“So the premise of an imposter scam is that the scammer wants to impersonate someone you trust or in the case of the IRS, someone you fear so that you're less likely to ask questions," Kossow said. "And that you'll just do exactly what they asked you to do.”

Scammers often target grandparents by impersonating their grandchild and claiming to be in trouble. They may ask for funds such as bail money and beg their grandparent not to call their parents, but Kossow advises doing just that. He told listeners to call their grandchild and their parents to see if the situation is real. He also said to be careful what you post online.

“Another thing you can do to avoid this scam is be careful about the information that you share publicly on social media," he said. "That's how these scammers often get just enough information about you and your family to be able to persuasively impersonate your grandchild.”

Kossow reminds that the IRS, Social Security Administration and Medicare will never call to ask for personal information or payment, unlike scammers who will ask for gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrency payments. If Nebraskans are uncertain about the online seller, they should pay with a credit card, so they can dispute the charge if needed. Nebraskans should also evaluate websites for signs of online shopping scams and never click on links from unknown phone numbers.