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Easy targets

Tips to protect seniors from elder fraud

Scammers will often claim to be a family member — usually a grandchild — and say they are in immediate need of money.

The Postal Service wants employees to be aware of elder fraud, to help protect seniors from being targeted by scammers.

Elder fraud robs seniors of billions of dollars annually, with more than 8.68 million incidents of theft occurring every year.

According to the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime, the most common scams are:

Romance: Scammers take advantage of people looking for partners or companionship through dating and social media sites.

Grandparent: Scammers contact someone, typically by phone, claiming to be a family member — usually a grandchild — and state that they are in immediate financial need.

Government impersonation: Scammers claim to be a government employee and threaten to arrest or prosecute victims unless they agree to provide funds or other payments.

Sweepstakes, charity, lottery: Scammers tell the victims they won a foreign lottery or sweepstakes but have to pay fees or taxes to collect.

Congress is currently considering a bill, the Financial Exploitation Prevention Act of 2023, to prevent seniors from, in some cases, being conned out of their life savings. Postal employees can play a role, too.

CyberSafe at USPS offers the following tips to share with customers:

Know the signs: Never give or send any personally identifiable information, money, jewelry, gift cards or checks to unverified people or businesses, according to a Federal Trade Commission report.

Share with care: Be cautious about sharing personal information on social media sites.

Report elder fraud: Victims should contact the Postal Inspection Service at or call its fraud hotline at 800-372-8347.

The Postal Inspection Service’s website and the CyberSafe at USPS Blue page have additional tips.