Stopping scams targeting older consumers

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The FTC has a long history of protecting people from scams.  As part of its ongoing efforts to protect people in every community, the FTC recently took steps to stop two schemes harming older adults: a tech support scam and a sweepstakes scam.

This latest tech support scam, which appears to impact older adults, has a lot in common with other scams we’ve seen. Some scammers pretend to be calling from the technical support department of a well-known company. Others send pop-up messages warning you about a problem with your computer. They want you to believe your computer is infected with a virus, or that a hacker is trying to access your computer. It’s all a ploy to get you to pay for bogus technical support you don’t need. Find out how you can help someone you know recognize and avoid a tech support scam.

The other operation appears to target older adults with a sweepstakes scam. The companies behind the scam send mailers that make people think they’ve won a $1 million prize (or more!), and that the recipient only needs to pay a small fee to claim it. Find out how you can help someone you know avoid a prize or sweepstakes scam.

If you think you see a scam, talk with someone. Your story could help someone avoid that scam. Then report it to the Federal Trade Commission at Your story could help the FTC stop the scammers.


Thank you for this information. I will be submitting a sweepstakes scam that was sent by mail to my spouse. It was so good I was almost thinking that maybe it was real! My spouse had already been scammed with a tech support scam and paid to have the computer unlocked!

I appreciate your emails. Keep up the great work.

The scammers call every day. Thanks to NoMoRobo to help stop most of them.

Good information. Thanks.

How do you know if an IRS letter is a scam or real???

The IRS is using private debt collectors to collect some tax debts. If your debt is put into the program, you will get a letter from the IRS, and then a letter from the private debt collection company. Read more from the IRS about the program.

If you get a letter and you owe federal taxes, or think you might owe, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions. Or go to the IRS website at

Look up the phone number of the IRS online -- on the IRS website. Then call and talk to someone from the IRS. That's what I did.

I have a question about all the Scan calls & E-mail we get. Is possible for use to send the suspicious 3 s or E-ms to a Trade for tracking? May be other ways too.

I get scam phone calls on my cell phone everyday. I don't answer calls that have unfamiliar numbers but I get voicemails and will listen to these.usually they are blank. Are these scams also?

Careful, scammers can make it look like a local call as well.

I get the same calls all day long even though I’ve registered with the National Do Not Call Registery, now I keep a list of all those numbers and report them back to the National Do Not Call Registery. So far it’s working

I've been getting calls twice a day from what looks like a local number; the first 6 digits are identical to my cell number. They change the last 4 digits by one number every call. I block the numbers and they never leave a voce message. So annoying. Thank you for keeping us informed.

I've been getting those too. I live in NC. Turns out they are recorded calls about health insurance. I've had Federal Blue Cross for the past 30 years or so and have no need for more health Insurance. I'm not sure how they got my number or why they chose me.
But I just ignore them.

Thanks for the heads up.

Good advice. I get calls from a 202 area code or others claiming to be the IRS and that they are going to take legal action against me if I don't pat some back taxes. I am sure some people fall for this.

Yeah Had calls on my computer. And calls concerning student loans. Plus calls concerning me owing IRS back payments. First auto call telling there was a warrant for my arrest then an 800 number to call should look into these 2 date sites I know that they are scamming people like crazy ,they are tagged and hi5 thank you.i have been on both of them ,and every person I have talked to has wanted me to send them money for one reason or another

Please report that to the Federal Trade Commission at The information you give will go into a secure database that law enforcement uses for investigations. Thank you.


Got one of those grandchild in trouble calls. My husband asked the caller the 1st name of the GC and asked him to give us my husband's name. Idiot used the wrong names when he was guessing.

Thanks. Appreciate the heads up.

please protect elderly

I did get scammed by one

Thanks for the after it happened expose'

My telephone number has been used by scammers. Why don't you tell me, and all the others whose number has been hijacked what you and our federal government is doing to stop this?

Between scams sales calls robot calls I feel like my home is being invaded. Other than not having a phone there is no way to escape. Do not call list doesn’t seem to be effective.

I agree with you on the no callers list . I am so sick of that phone ringing I could scream but I didn’t and just turned the ringer off. And then we just hear the answering machine with nothing on it.

This topic is a very timely one for me. As a subscriber to an online news source, for over two weeks each time that I opened a column to read it, the screen disappears and I am looking at a screen that is impossible to get rid of. It’s a scam for sure; I took screenshots each time that it happened to me, and sent them to the news source, requesting help from the IT department. I never received a reply, except for a “customer service representative,” who had no ability to help me- I was told that my screenshots would be sent to the IT department; that never happened. Instead the representative told me to stop sending emails with the screenshots to the news source help support!?

I have gone into my advanced section of my data, and looked for the tag that was in the top of each one of these scamming emails ( they were all different, forcing me to write the information on the top of these emails ), and I have been delighted with not receiving these emails anymore. I was ( and still am ) vexed by the lack of help from the news source; I have always thought that they were better than others. Obviously, I was wrong. Anyway thank you for sending this message to those of us who read your messages all the time.

We often answer the call with "Austin Police dept. How may i direct your call?"

What happens when you answer the phone as the APD? Do you think it might have an effect on callers? At the very least, the ploy must bring you some satisfaction.

Great idea! Must try this one.

When I was working, when I got scammer calls, I would call them back at my work place and cuss them out, at least a few times a day. After about three days of this, the number was disconnected.

Good info, especially the Tech Support scam. You need to log out to get rid of their pop ups. thanks

Thanks to the FTC I figured out the tech support scam. It was the second time for me, though. The scammers are very, very clever. Be careful! Good to know that you just need to turn off your computer to get rid of them.

you should go to new scammers who behave as real commercial foreign companies and then try to cheat our large American banks-they are very specialized and our banks must establish a specialized organization to fight those criminals

Thanks. Keep up the good work informing the public regarding these scum 'scammers'.

The FTC has been wonderful when I have turned in phone numbers that are probably scams. I do not get calls from them anymore. I think everyone should pay attention to the FTC.

I have reported hundreds of calls to the FTC over the last 4 or 5 years. I still get calls from the same callers I did 4 or 5 years ago. The FTC can't stop the calls or does not want to. I have quit reporting the calls due to it being a waste of time.

Is there any way to go after scammers that keep calling? Everytime I get a call I block it to prevent future calls. However, they keep calling with a one digit area code or phone number change so I have to block that one as well. I can't tell you how many of these calls I keep getting. I received another one yesterday that left me a voicemail while I was driving. (I don't use my phone while in the car). The message left tells me I have a refund coming and to call asap. I had talked to one of those people last month, but he wanted access to my computer. He kept insisting he can't access mine he just needs to walk me through filling out a form. Well finally realized he could see the form as he changed the spelling of my address this form he can see on his end and actually made a correction to my address.He insisted only the computer sees and updates the form, he can't. so he kept insisting.
I too, keep getting calls about student loan forgiveness. I haven't had a student loan since 1987! I am sick and tired of being harrassed by the same people. I'd love to be able to sue for harassment.

I got one telling me my computer needed repairs. I told them I didn't have a computer(I do) and they hung up on me. Another time I was told I owed back taxes. I said I was going to call my CPA and they hung up on me. I got one actually using the local police dept. phone number!

I reported a phone scam...I hope you get them!

Not sure how to report this, but I know I need to let someone know and investigate further.

Here is what happens and I confirmed today.

I get a phone call on my cell from a number in my area code and exchange but not in my contact list. I don't answer. The number was 225-247-7162. Two minutes later I get another phone call same area code and exchange but different last 4 digits. This call resulted in a voice message. I return this call and was told they were returning my call. I believe what happened is that I did not answer phone number #1, so telemarketer then proceeded to call phone number #2 spoofing my phone number. Owner of #2 thought it was me and tried calling me back and I did not answer but called back a couple of minutes later. The telemarketer is spoofing numbers of phones that do not answer!

My friend was scammed by way of Apple, a call can on his Iphone and said that his phone was broke, and to send 200 dollars in iphone cards to them using the code on the back of cards, he did and then they said they found another problem and wanted 400dollars I overheard him talking and told him to hang up as it was a scam, at first he didn't believe me as he was scared that his phone would be messed up. I told him that Apple doesn't do that after we discussed it some more he did as I asked. He was glad of that. We reported this to FTC. We hope you get them but I is a loss cause thank you anyway

Thank you for reporting this to the FTC.

Thank you Bridget, this is great information. My aunt has been a victim of several scams...I did a great deal of research on a scam out of Florida offering Caribbean Cruises and by chance reached the scammer back all the money they took from my aunt $900+

Everyone needs to utilize the FTC

I want to report an elderly manipulated by my local home improvement store. Who would have thought it would insist on full payment up front for an installation project & then distract or offer impending problem issue and change measurements on the contract. So very sad a big name store lowers itself to shady business practices.

I got a call yesterday the 21st. of Feb the guy said hi grandpa then don't recognize me, I can't talk very good because I was in a car wreck and lost some teeth. You know he was looking for money but I just told him, I don't have a grandson! click!

I receive calls that my computer has a problem with WINDOWS or sending trash on the internet and want me to follow their directive for inputs to my computer. NO WAY !!! I terminate the calls.

My husband was scammed by a tech support. They kept calling our phone and I told them I had turned them in. They finally quit calling. My husband actually gave them our IP address. Lesson learned.

My aunt is 83 years old and received a call advising she would be receiving a Social Security increase and needed to verify her direct deposit information...she felt the pressure and provided them all her personal older brother called to advise what she had done, I instructed them to go straight to the bank and cancel all banking information, debit and credit the motor vehicle department etc..., I contacted Social Security there in Farmington NM...


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