How to protect your kupuna from scams that target the elderly


Monday is National Senior Citizens Day, a day meant to raise awareness about the importance of caring for the elderly.

That also means looking out for their financial well-being, because in many cases, they’re the ones being targeted by scammers through the mail, by phone, and on the Internet.

Hawaii Better Business Bureau CEO Greg Dunn says efforts are being ramped up to help safeguard seniors.

“Going forward, you will probably be asked by either a bank teller or a clerk at one of the stores that sell gift cards or do wire transfers asking you if the money you’re about to send or the gift cards you’re about to buy, if someone told you to buy them and send them to them,” Dunn said.

That’s because often times scammers tell potential victims not to tell anyone about what they’re doing.

The BBB says when it comes to spotting a scam targeting the elderly, the top three most popular are:

  • The fake sweepstakes scam where you’re told you won a large amount of money but that you need to wire money or gift cards to pay for your prize,
  • The fake IRS scam where you’re told you owe taxes, and if you don’t pay up you’ll be arrested, and
  • The grandparent scam where you get a late night phone call from someone posing as a family member saying he or she is in trouble and needs money.

“Very rarely do families sit down and talk with their grandparents or the kupuna that you’re caring for about how to protect yourself from scams and frauds, so it’s very important that you and your loved ones sit down and talk about what are the warning signs,” Dunn said.

Dunn says many seniors who have been scammed are afraid of telling anyone, but he encourages them to come forward and tell a trusted family member so that it doesn’t happen again.

Click here for more about a 93-year-old woman who came forward after losing more than $148,000.

If you have a consumer concern or are interested in becoming an Action Line volunteer, give us a call at 591-0222 weekdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. or send an email to

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