Scam Archives - Council on Aging

January Scam of the Month

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released an article about the second round of stimulus payments. As a reminder, the FTC has stated that the newest $600 payment is for the individual who qualifies, NOT for the place they reside.

After the first payments were received in 2020, there were several reports that nursing facilities were trying to take residents’ payments, especially those on Medicaid. Lois Greisman, Elder Justice Coordinator with the FTC writes, “If you qualify for a payment, it’s yours to keep. If a loved one qualifies and lives in a nursing home or assisted living facility, it’s theirs to keep. The facility may not put their hands on it, or require somebody to sign it over to them. Even if that somebody is on Medicaid.”

If a care community is trying to keep your or your loved one’s Economic Impact Payment, please report to your state’s attorney general and report to the FTC at



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December Scam of the Month


This year, more than in past years, many of us are relying on the convenience of online shopping. However, online sellers are not created equal and thousands of us become victims of holiday scams.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), the most common scams during the season are non-delivery and non-payment crimes.
A non-delivery scam is when the buyer pays for goods that are never received. And in a non-payment scam, the seller ships the product but is never paid.

These simple tips from the IC3 can help you look out for scammers during the holiday season or any other time of year:

1. Always get a tracking number for items purchased online so you can make sure they have been shipped and can follow the delivery process.

2. Be wary of sellers who post an auction or advertisement as if they reside in the U.S., then respond to questions by stating they are out of the country on business, family emergency, or similar reasons.

3. Avoid sellers who post an auction or advertisement under one name but ask that payment be sent to someone else.

4. Consider canceling your purchase if a seller requests funds to be paid via a money transfer, pre-paid card, bank-to-bank wire transfer, or gift card. Money sent in these ways is virtually impossible to recover, with no recourse for the victim. Always remember that anyone who asks you to use one of these forms of payment might be a scammer. A credit card is generally the safest way to pay for an online purchase.

5. Avoid sellers who act as authorized dealers or factory representatives of popular items in countries where there would be no such dealers.

6. Verify the legitimacy of a buyer or seller before moving forward with a purchase. If you’re using an online marketplace or auction website, check their feedback rating. Be wary of buyers and sellers with mostly unfavorable feedback ratings or no ratings at all.

7. Avoid buyers who request their purchase be shipped using a certain method to avoid customs or taxes inside another country.

8. Be suspect of any credit card purchases where the address of the cardholder does not match the shipping address. Always receive the cardholder’s authorization before shipping any products.

9. Always be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.

If you believe you are the victim of an online scam, please report to your local law enforcement, credit card company/banking institution, and FBI’s IC3.
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November Scam of the Month

A recent AARP survey found that twice as many veterans are scammed as civilians. These scams can take many forms including fake employment opportunities, false charities, COVID-19 scams, or convincing veterans to sign over future income in exchange for a large lump sum payment.
Here is how veterans can be vigilant:
Don’t Give Personal Information: Don’t give any personal information over the phone. This includes credit cards, bank information, and Social Security numbers. You may receive a check-in from the VA by phone, email, or text, but if you doubt its legitimacy, verify by calling the VA at 1‑800‑827‑1000.
Don’t Feel Pressured: If you are dealing with a legitimate company, they will not pressure you to act before you have a chance to think it over. 
Don’t Pay: If you have to pay upfront to get the job or your personal military records, it’s a scam.
Consult a Trusted Source: Discuss any financial decision with a trusted family member, friend, or your local veterans affairs office before acting.
Research and Get References: Always do your due diligence before you sign anything. Get references and ask questions. Verify information with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at
Sources: and AARP
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October Scam of the Month

It’s almost open enrollment time for more than 60 million Medicare participants. As you consider the many options, keep an eye out for scams. Scammers use this time as an opportunity to take advantage of older adults.

Here are some common Medicare scams and how to avoid them:

  • You receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from Medicare. They say you need to provide your Medicare number or credit card information in order to sign up for a plan. HANG UP! Medicare NEVER calls beneficiaries to sign up.
  • Other tricksters are calling asking for consumers to update their information with the new Medicare number. DO NOT give out your new Medicare ID. Even though it is no longer your social security number, it still needs to be protected.
  • You get a phone call from a representative claiming to be from Medicare, asking you to confirm or update billing information. HANG UP! Medicare will not call you and they will not ask for payment over the phone or through email.
  • If someone calls trying to sell you a prescription drug plan, hang up!  Part D is NOT mandatory.
  • If someone asks you for your personal information, for money or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your personal details, hang up and call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Medicare open enrollment for 2021 coverage begins on October 15, 2020, and ends on December 7, 2020. The best place for information is online at, calling Medicare at 1-800-Medicare or SHIP (TN State Health Insurance Assistance Program) at 1-877-801-0044. SHIP offers free and unbiased Medicare information and counseling.

Sources: and AARP

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September Scam of the Month

Last week, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a warning to residents that the upcoming elections could provoke an increase in scammers pretending to be pollsters, campaign volunteers, fundraisers, and even candidates. Millions of dollars were scammed in 2016 during the last election cycle.  Fraudsters have been known to use social media ads, text messages, and even go door to door.

Here are some tips from the BBB to protect yourself:

  • Donate directly to the campaign office: Ensure you are donating directly to the campaign by giving either through the candidate’s official website or at a local campaign office.


  • Watch for spoofed calls:  Scammers can fake phone numbers by using spoofing technology.


  • Beware of prize offers: Hang up on any political pollster who claims that you can win a prize for participating in a survey. Political survey companies rarely use prizes, so that is a red flag (especially if they ask you to pay for shipping or taxes in order to claim it).


  • Don’t give out personal or banking information: Pollsters may ask for information about your vote or political affiliation, and even demographic information such as your age or race, but they don’t need your Social Security number or credit card information.


  • Research fundraising organizations before donating: Be especially cautious of links that come to you through email or social media, and don’t click through. Instead, go directly to an organization’s website by typing the URL in your browser or using a search engine.


Sources: and

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August Scam of the Month

Last month, the FBI field office in Memphis, TN issued a warning that scammers have spoofed the FBI Nashville Resident Agency phone number.  Scammers are spoofing the number in connection with a Social Security scam. In this instance, the fraudsters are telling possible victims that their Social Security number has been suspended and a warrant for their arrest has been issued. The victim is then instructed to purchase gift cards and call back to provide the numbers on those gift cards.
The FBI classifies this type of scam as government impersonation fraud. Legitimate law enforcement officers will NEVER ask for cash or gift cards as payment. Scammers often use fear and manipulative tactics leading victims to make snap decisions.

How to protect yourself:

  • Be cautious answering phone calls from numbers you do not recognize.
  • Never send money or gift cards to people you do not know.
  • Never reveal personal information like your banking information, Social Security number, etc.
  • Ask questions and details and don’t be afraid to hang up.

If you believe you’ve been the victim of this scam or another online scam, you can report to the FBI using their internet crime center at

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

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July Scam of the Month

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of the Mid-South recently issued a warning about a COVID-19 contact tracing scam. Contact tracing is how public health officials track people who might have been exposed to the coronavirus. People have reported receiving text messages and robocalls related to this scam but it is wise to be cautious of emails and social media messages too. The BBB has provided tips to keep you informed.

How to tell a real contact tracer from a scam:

1. Contact tracers will ask you to confirm your identity, but not financial information. Tracers will ask you to confirm your name, address, and date of birth. In most cases, they will already have this information on file. They will also ask about your current health, medical history, and recent travels. They will not ask for your social security number or bank account details.

2. Contact tracers will identify themselves. Legitimate tracers should start the conversation by providing their name and identifying themselves as calling from the health department or another official team.

3. Contact tracing is normally done by phone call. Be extra wary of social media messages or texts.

4. Official contact tracers will never reveal the identity of the person who tested positive. If they provide a person’s name, you know it’s a scam.

5. Double-check the URL (web address). Scammers often buy official-looking URLs to use in their scams. Before you click on a link, check the web address provided. If the message is supposed to come from the local government, make sure the URL ends in .gov. When in doubt, perform a separate internet search for the website.

Source: Better Business Bureau

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April Scam of the Month


Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) have issued reports that older adults are being targeted by scammers using the COVID-19 health situation.

It is important for us to be cautious during this time because scams are coming through all forms of communication. Several different types of scams have been reported. Some are using the economic impact payments, others are trying to sell COVID-19 tests and miracle cures. Scammers will continually change their tactics to catch us off guard.

It is vital to remember that the IRS will NOT contact you regarding the economic impact payments. You DO NOT have to do anything in order to receive this payment.  The IRS will automatically send these $1,200 payments to older adults who qualify.

The most common scams surrounding coronavirus are:

  • Medicare Test Kits: Medicare will NOT call asking if you want test kits. This is an attempt to get your money and/or private information.
  • Fake Cures: Currently, there is no cure or vaccine to treat coronavirus. Any claims that suggest otherwise are 100% false.
  • Impersonations:
    • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not go door-to-door gathering information about infectious diseases. If you encounter a person claiming to be from the CDC, contact your local police department.
    • The U.S. Census Bureau is suspending in-person census takers until at least April 15th. This means that no legitimate census taker will be going door-to-door.
  • Economic Impact Payments: There are reports that people have been receiving phone calls, texts, emails and social media posts about the economic impact payment to citizens during the COVID-19 situation. These are scams trying to get your private information and/or get you to pay a small fee in order to receive it. If you receive a check in the mail, DO NOT DEPOSIT IT. It is a fake. It will take weeks for people to receive a paper check and most will have their funds directly deposited into their banks. The IRS warns taxpayers that scammers might use the following tactics:
    • Emphasize the words “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” The official term is economic impact payment.
    • Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
    • Ask by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information saying that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment.
    • Suggest that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf. This scam could be conducted through social media or even in person.
    • Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.
  • Phishing emails: Recently, the Secret Service issued a warning about emails that appear to be sent from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The email contains a link that does NOT connect to the CDC or WHO. It is best to avoid opening emails from senders you do not know.
  • Counterfeit products/price gouging:  Many consumers have reported false product descriptions and increased prices while shopping online. It is best to read reviews and look into the seller’s history before clicking “buy now”.
  • Phony fundraisers: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests researching charities before donating. You can verify nonprofits at

Here are some tips to keep your money and identity safe:

  • Scammers rely on fear and fear-based decisions in order to steal your information and money. Don’t be afraid to hang up and call someone for advice.
  • If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Research and verify companies and organizations through the Better Business Bureau.
  • Knowing about the scams reduces the likelihood of becoming a victim.
  • Never share your bank account, routing or social security numbers.
Sources: and

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March Scam of the Month

By the middle of March, we will all begin to receive information on how to complete the 2020 Census. By April 1, nationally referred to as Census Day, every home should have received their notice. You will have three options to respond, online, by phone and by mail.

The U.S. Census Bureau will make appropriate adjustments to their operations to ensure they cover any areas affected by natural disasters.

In May, census takers will begin making their rounds to homes that have not responded to ensure that every person is counted. If you are not home, a census taker will return up to six times, leaving a door tag with a number to call to schedule a return visit.

Census takers MUST show a photo ID that includes a U.S. Department of Commerce Seal and expiration date. It is important to note that questions about immigration status will not be included and census responses are ALWAYS secure, confidential and protected by federal law.

If you ask, the census taker will provide you with either the supervisor’s contact information or the number to the regional census location.

For a list of 2020 U.S. Census questions, visit

If you believe you have been scammed, call 1-800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.

For additional information, please visit



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February Scam of the Month


Last month FedEx issued a statement that scammers were using the company’s name to gather personal information through fake text messages. These texts included bogus links that would ask you to provide your credit card information. FedEx stated that they will never send unsolicited texts or emails to customers. If you receive a text that you believe to be a scam, delete it or you can forward it to

Many people also reported receiving similar text messages from Amazon. If you have concerns about your delivery, don’t use the phone number or hyperlink provided in the text.  It is important to remember to use caution whenever you receive any form of communication, especially ones that include hyperlinks because they could be downloading malware to your device.

Sources: &


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