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BBB Education Foundation creating savvy seniors across the Upstate

Senior adults are 47 percent more likely to be the victim of a scam than those in other age groups, losing more than $36 billion every year to financial fraud.

The Better Business Bureau Education Foundation has a program to arm seniors who live and work in the Upstate with the information they need to protect themselves against personal and financial threats. It’s called Savvy Seniors and it teaches seniors how to recognize and avoid scams and prevent identity theft.

Savvy Seniors is an educational and interactive presentation aimed at coaching active seniors on how to recognize targeted fraud that includes grandparent, social security, health care, imposter, romance, identity theft, debt collection and online scams. It also teaches consumer and financial best practices.

“We talk with seniors about the latest scams and give tips on how to spot them so that they don’t become a victim,” says Cheryl Hicks, board chair of the BBB Education Foundation. “The workshops also give attendees the chance to share personal experiences in a safe environment.”

Top senior scams in the Upstate in 2019

Three scams targeting seniors are rising to the top in 2019, according to the BBB Education Foundation:

Medicare/Medical/Prescriptions
These scams start with a call that appears on your caller ID as Medicare or the Social Security Administration, but they have many variations. Regardless of the method, the scammer’s goal is to steal personal information for their personal benefit. Here are some of the most popular versions of the scam:

•  When you pick up the phone, a Medicare impersonator offers you something for free, such as a back or knee brace. All you have to do is share some personal information, such as your Social Security number, to “confirm” your identity.
•  Some versions capitalize on the rollout of new Medicare cards. Scammers tell seniors that they need to verify personal information or pay a processing fee to get their new card.
•  In another version, scammers claim there is a problem with Medicare or Social Security benefits. They may say there has been suspicious activity on your account and if you don’t give them the information they need right away, you are in danger of losing your benefits.

Romance Facebook scam
Scammers troll for widowers on Facebook and start by asking to be their friend. Once seniors accept the friend request, the romancing begins. After getting to know each other, the scammer starts asking for money for airfare or other travel money to come visit. Once scammers receive the money, they make up reasons they can’t visit and continue to plead for money.

Grandparents scam
These “grandparent or emergency” scams are designed to fool seniors into thinking their grandchild is hurt, arrested or stranded and in need of money. Scammers impersonate their victim’s grandchildren and make up an urgent situation — “I’ve been arrested,” “I’ve been mugged,” “I’m in the hospital” — and target grandparents with urgent pleas for help and money.

Schedule a Savvy Seniors presentation for your group
If you are a church group, assisted living facility, or any organization that works with seniors, contact the BBB Education Foundation to schedule a Savvy Seniors presentation in your community. Call 864-242-6905 or email foundation@upstatesc.bbb.org.

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