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  • Robocall Hotline:(844)-8-NO-ROBO
  • All Other Complaints:(877)-5-NO-SCAM
  • Outside NC:919-716-6000
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Senior Scams

View and download the Senior Scam Guide here.

Too often, scammers often try to take advantage of older people or people who may be especially vulnerable to common scam tactics like fear, threats, or pressure.

Here are some of the most common scams that are reported to our office. Many of them particularly target older North Carolinians, so please share these tips with relatives and loved ones. It’s always easier to prevent a scam than to try to get your money back after the fact.

And if you think you may have been the victim of a scam or have been contacted by a scammer, report it to our office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint.

Telemarketing Scams 

Unwanted scam calls can be a nuisance. While some telemarketers call to sell you something, other robocallers want to steal your money or your personal information. Robocallers cost people as much as $40 billion a year. Attorney General Stein is leading nationwide efforts to cut down on robocalls by preventing them from getting on the telephone network and working with law enforcement  

You can avoid telemarketing scams by following these tips: 

  • Hang up. Do not press a number to avoid further calls. This alerts robocallers that they have reached an active number and could lead to more unwanted calls. 
  • Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222 or If your phone number is on the Do Not Call Registry, legitimate telemarketers are not allowed to call you. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll know that many  telemarketers  who call are probably out to scam you. 
  • Remember that you do not know who is on the other end of the call. They may claim to be the government or a family member, but you need to be wary, especially if they ask for money. 
  • Unless you are familiar with the company, do not respond to mailings and email messages concerning sweepstakes or lottery prizes.  Doing so can get you on a list of potential targets that is purchased by fraudulent telemarketers around the world. 
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. These deals are great only for the person selling. 
  • Don’t let the pressure push you. People use high-pressure tactics – like fear and excitement – to get you to make a quick decision. If you feel like you have to give away your money or data, it’s probably a scam.  
  • Never give your bank account, credit card or Social Security number to someone you don’t know who calls you on the phone. 

Sweetheart/Friendship Scams

Many scammers attempt to use your excitement to get you to make a bad decision. You may get a telephone call, email, or letter telling you that you’ve won the lottery or urging you to apply for a sweepstakes because you’re already a finalist. Often, the scammer will ask you to pay a down payment or fee to collect your prize money. The most common ploy is for the scammer to tell you that you need to prepay your taxes on the winnings. 

You can avoid sweepstakes scams by following these tips: 

  • Never send money to anyone who says you’ve won a prize. This includes people you’ve exchanged emails or letters with, as well as telemarketers. It’s illegal to have to pay anything upfront to win a prize. Any prize that requires you to send money to cover taxes or other costs first is a scam. Don’t be fooled if they include a check to cover taxes and fees. The check is fake. 
  • Protect your personal information. Never give out your Social Security number, bank account or credit card number in order to win a prize. 
  • Be skeptical. If anyone tells you that you’ve won a prize or contest you don’t remember entering, it’s probably a scam. 
  • It is illegal to offer lottery tickets over the phone or through the mail. Anyone who contacts you to lottery tickets is trying to cheat you.

Grandparent Scams

Criminals will sometimes pretend to be a family member or a grandchild in trouble and in need of money. They find out who your loved ones and grandchildren are by scouring the internet and social media, so that when they call you, they have enough information to make the call sound real. They pretend to be your family member and ask for money to get out of a crisis; they may even use artificial intelligence (AI) to create a voice recording that sounds exactly like your grandchild. They ask you to wire money or load funds onto gift cards. We all want to help our loved ones when they are in difficult situations, but we can’t let our concern rush us into falling for a scam.  

You can avoid grandparent scams by following these tips: 

  • Verify with someone you trust. Call another relative, or call the relative who claims to be in trouble. Verify even if the caller asks you not to.  
  • If someone claims to be a loved one, ask the person questions that only your real family member would be able to answer. 
  • Share carefully on social media. Make sure your privacy settings prevent strangers from accessing information about you or your family. 
  • Never wire or send money in response to a phone call, email or online message. Once the money has been received by a fraudster, it’s almost impossible to get it back. 

Imposter Scams

Scammers will often pretend to be people with authority, like a government agency, law enforcement, or even your bank. Sometimes they scam you by offering a bogus government grant, which they claim you will receive after you prepay various fees. Or, they use the threat of legal consequences, arrests, or fines to get your money before you’re able to think clearly. But government and law enforcement representatives don’t call you to threaten arrest, and they won’t ask you to pay your way out of it.  

You can avoid imposter scams by following these tips: 

  • Don’t rely on caller ID to decide if a call is trustworthy. The caller ID might show the government agency or company’s name to make it look real. Scammers use spoofing technology to make their calls look legitimate.  
  • Hang up and call the company or government agency directly. Using a number listed on their website, call the company to ask if the call is legitimate. 
  • If they’re threatening arrest, it’s a scam. Don’t send them money or personal information.  
  • Always remember that the IRS will never call you about alleged, unpaid taxes. If you truly owe money to the IRS, the IRS will contact you by mail. 
  • Never give your money to someone who demands payments from gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. Scammers use these methods because they are difficult to track. It is nearly impossible for law enforcement to recover money once it has been sent. Demands to use a payment method like these are a clear sign of a scam.

Investment Scams 

You want financial security and the ability to leave a nest egg for your children and grandchildren. Scammers often target seniors with fake annuity or investment opportunities. Unfortunately, with many money-making offers, the only person who makes money is the person who is selling them. If someone offers you a deal to make money that sounds too good to be true, it could be a scam. 

You can avoid money making scams by following these tips: 

  • Make sure you understand an agreement before you sign. Read all forms completely and consult with a knowledgeable friend or professional before you agree to anything. Never invest in or buy something that you don’t understand. 
  • Make sure the offer is legitimate. The North Carolina Secretary of State’s office regulates securities and the people who sell them. Before you buy, call their Investor Hotline at (800) 688-4507 to learn more about a seller. You can also contact our office to determine if a seller is legitimate. 
  • Beware of high-pressure sales pitches.  Avoid offers that are only good “now or never.” Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You should never make a decision or share financial information under pressure. 

Tech Support Scams

Tech support scams are increasingly common. Scammers contact their victims by phone, email, or through pop-up messages on a home computer. The scammer claims to have found a problem with the computer that they can fix if the victim allows remote access to the computer. Once the scammer gains access, information stored on the computer, and on any network connected to it, is available to the scammer. Even password-protected information is vulnerable, as the scammer can install malware that uncovers user- names and passwords. 

You can avoid tech support scams by following these tips: 

  • If someone claiming to be from a tech company contacts you by phone, email, or text message, do not respond. Legitimate tech companies won’t contact you in any of these ways. 
  • If you receive a pop-up message on your computer telling you to call or click on a link because something is amiss with your computer, don’t click and don’t call. Real tech companies will never ask you to call or click on a link, and clicking the link can allow the scammer to install malware. 
  • If you think there’s something wrong with your computer, update your security software and run a scan. 
  • If you’re looking for tech support, find a company you know and trust. Many software companies offer support online or by phone, and stores that sell computer equipment also offer technical support in person. 
  • If you gave a scammer remote access to your computer, update your computer’s security software. Then, run a scan and delete anything that it identifies as a problem. 
  • If you gave your username and password to a tech support scammer, change that password right away. If you use the same password for other accounts or sites, change it there, too.

Health Care Scams

We all want to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. Scammers often attempt to exploit fears of getting sick to steal people’s money and personal information. If someone contacts you offering miracle cures, free prescription medication, or relief for medical bills, it could be a scam.  

You can avoid health care scams by following these tips: 

  • Avoid products that are too good to be true. Be skeptical of products that claim to be miracle cures or say they have a secret ingredient. Remember that products that scammers often try to make you excited to cloud your judgement.
  • Never buy a product or share your information unless you’re sure of the seller’s authenticity. If someone contacts you and you haven’t heard of them, hang up and call your doctor or our office. 
  • Get medical advice from your doctor. Scammers may call offering treatment for chronic pain or other ailments, but only take advice from your trusted doctor. 

Home Repair Scams

Homes need regular maintenance and repair, but don’t let scammers trick you into paying for improvements you don’t need. Many scammers knock on your door and offer to do a simple job, such as cleaning your gutters. Then, the scammer claims they found other problems that need immediate repair. Or, the scammer tells you that your driveway needs repaving and offers to do the work immediately at what they say is a great price; the paving job ends up being subpar, and the scammer charges more than was promised. If someone you don’t know comes to your door and offers to fix a problem with your home you weren’t aware of, be wary.  

You can avoid home repair scams by following these tips: 

  • Stick to reputable contractors and companies. Be skeptical of unsolicited offers for home repairs, especially if the contractor comes to your door and says the job needs to be done right away. Stick to companies you or a friend trust. Check credentials – particularly, whether the contractor is licensed by the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors – and contact our office or the Better Business Bureau to learn if a company has been the subject of lots of complaints. Under North Carolina law, a contractor must be licensed in order to solicit or do work costing $30,000 or more. 
  • Don’t fall for the gambit whereby a contractor or handyman offers to do one job but then claims to find other problems needing repair. These scammers often move from neighborhood to neighborhood or even from state to state. Out-of-state phone numbers or license plates are telltale signs that the person at your door is a scammer. 
  • Never pay upfront. Be very wary of any request to pay deposits or other fees for tree removal or cleanup in advance. Out-of-state tree cutters have been known to collect deposits from entire neighborhoods and then disappear without performing any work. Only pay when the work is done and you are satisfied. Avoid paying with cash; use a check or a credit card instead. 
  • Don’t let anyone rush you. Take your time to make a good financial decision. Get a second opinion and compare prices before you agree to a deal. If an offer is only good “now or never,” find someone else to do the job.  

Charity Scams

Making a donation to a charity or nonprofit is a great way to give back to your community. North Carolinians contribute billions of dollars to charity each year, and criminals often try to take advantage of people’s good intentions to steal their money. Make sure that when you donate money, it goes to helping others, not lining the pockets of scammers. 

You can avoid charity scams by following these tips: 

  • Make sure the charity is legitimate. Research charities before giving by calling our office and checking their license with the Secretary of State. You can also use resources including the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar to research charity organizations. 
  • Give to charities you know. Be cautious of crowdfunding websites and unsolicited emails, text messages, and social media posts asking you to donate. Instead of responding to solicitations, give to organizations you’ve heard of or seen do good work in your community. 
  • Pay by credit card or check. Cash gifts can be lost or stolen. For security and tax record purposes, it is best to pay by credit card. If you do write a check, make sure you make it out to the charity directly, not a third-party fundraiser. If anyone asks you to pay with prepaid gift cards or debit cards, it is probably a scam.  

Cryptocurrency Scams

Cryptocurrency is a relatively new digital currency, which can be used to either pay for purchases or to make investments. Scammers love to capitalize on cryptocurrency because it’s difficult to understand, irreversible, and often hard to track back to the scammer. Cryptocurrency also has fewer legal protections, so there’s often no legal recourse if you’re scammed. If you’re going to invest in cryptocurrency, do your research, ask for expertise, and don’t fall for promises to get rich.  

  • Watch out for unsolicited messages that seek payment specifically in cryptocurrency. Anyone who requests payment through wire transfer, gift cards, or cryptocurrency could be a scammer. 
  • Be extremely skeptical of get-rich-quick guarantees. If someone promises you fast profits in return for you sending cryptocurrency, it’s probably a scam. 
  • Make sure you know exactly who you’re doing business or investing with. Search their name, or the name of the company, with the words “scam” or “review” to validate their credibility. If you are unsure if a company is legitimate, call our office before doing business with them. 
  • Be wary of impersonators. Just because someone tells you who they are or who they represent, it does not mean it is the truth.  
  • Do not fall for scare tactics – any message that threatens consequences if you do not send cryptocurrency is a scam. 

Phishing Scams

Most of us store our most valuable personal and financial information on our phones, computers, and online accounts. That means our data is more vulnerable to hacking attempts, including phishing scams. Scammers will pretend to be a friend, your bank, or other organizations or people you know and do business with, to ask for money or claim you need to make a payment immediately. Most “emergencies” you need to respond to are really just scams.  

Don’t let phishing scammers hack you by following these tips:  

  • If you get an email or a text, look at it closely. Hover over the sender’s email to see whether the address is legitimate. Look out for spelling and grammar errors, strange times to be sending email, or any other red flags that strike you as odd – if anything seems off, don’t click on or open the email.  
  • Don’t open emails, click links, or download attachments from people you don’t know. 
  • Use strong passwords, change them regularly, and don’t share them with others.  
  • Never send personal information, like your Social Security number or bank account information, over email or text.  
  • Remember, if you’re asked to pay via gift card or BitCoin, it’s a scam.  

Affinity Scams

Scammers often prey upon the relationships and connections you make. The easiest way for a scammer to get you to trust them is to use the relationships you already have – your school, your colleagues at work, your friends at church or in your softball league. Scammers might reach out to you pretending to be another member of an organization or group you’re a part of, or they might use your hobbies, interests, or background to forge a connection with you and gain your trust. Once they gain your trust, you’re less likely to question them or their motives if they ask for money or if they try to sell you something.   

You can avoid affinity scams by following these tips 

  • Even if someone claims to have a connection with you, verify that they are who they say they are. Reach out to others in your group or someone you know and trust.  
  • Do your own research. Regardless of what someone might claim, either in trying to sell you a product or asking you for money, take the time to verify it on your own.  
  • Don’t let the pressure get to you. If an opportunity is time-limited or will go away shortly, it’s probably a scam. Scammers often create a nonexistent deadline to put more pressure on you.  
  • Don’t respond to emails you weren’t expecting. If someone you don’t normally email with, or an organization you don’t normally hear from, reaches out via email or text, be on your guard and call or otherwise verify whether it’s real.  

Request a Presentation 

The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office provides presentations about scams and identity theft to groups of consumers across the state. 

For more information or to schedule a presentation for your group, please contact: 

Public Protection Section
North Carolina Department of Justice
Attorney General’s Office
9001 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-9001 

Telephone: (919) 716-6780