Scams target people of all ages and backgrounds, however, some scams are more likely to target older people.
Why older Australians are at risk
Often older Australians have more money and accumulated wealth than younger people, making them an attractive target for a scammer.
Scammers will also scour dating sites and social media for older Australians who have recently divorced or lost a long term partner, taking advantage of their inexperience with these sites and their often vulnerable emotional state.
Older Australians may also be seen by scammers as generally less internet and computer savvy or familiar with new technology.
Common scams targeting older Australians
Door-to-door and home maintenance scams
Older Australians may also be more susceptible to door-to-door and home maintenance scams. While many legitimate businesses sell things door-to-door, scammers also use this approach. These types of scams generally involve promoting goods and services that are of poor quality, or not delivered at all.
Scammers may try and sell you gardening or roofing services, and then bill you for additional work that you did not agree to. Sometimes they may pretend to conduct a survey so they can get your personal details, or to disguise their sales pitch until they have been talking to you for a while.
Some of the warning signs you may be dealing with a scammer include:
- they visit late at night, or visit you again after you have said 'no'
- they don't show you any identification or give you any contact information, written quotes or receipts
- they might demand that you decide to accept their offer on the spot
- you may be asked for a deposit or full payment and can only pay by cash or credit card
- they fail to tell you about your legal rights, including rights to a cooling-off period.
For more information about your rights and protections when approached by a door-to-door salesperson, see: Telemarketing & door-to-door sales
- Don't be pressured into making a decision. Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency through short deadlines, fake emergencies or threats of legal action.
- Be suspicious of requests for money – even if they sound or look official. Government departments will never contact you asking for money upfront in order to claim a rebate.
Scammers will often ask you to use an unusual payment method, including preloaded debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards or virtual currency such as Bitcoin.
- Verify the identity of the contact by calling the relevant organisation directly – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Do not use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.
- Don’t respond to phone calls or emails offering financial advice or opportunities – just hang up or delete the email.
- Always do your own research before you invest money and check the company or scheme is licensed on ASIC's MoneySmart website.
- Be wary of people you meet social media or online dating sites who after just a few contacts profess strong feelings for you and try to move you away from the site and communicate via chat or email.
- Be suspicious of unexpected emails or letters advising you how to claim an inheritance or competition prize. Never give out your personal details and seek advice from an independent professional.
- Be aware of and understand your consumer rights.
Real life story
Have you been scammed?
We encourage you to report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page. This helps us to warn people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible. Please include details of the scam contact you received, for example, email or screenshot.
We also provide guidance on where to get help.
Protect yourself from scams. There are steps that everyone can take to keep safe from scams.
Be connected. ‘Be Connected’ is a new digital literacy program for older Australians to help them increase their online confidence, skills and safety.