Help Prevent Scams During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Editor's Note: This article follows up on a joint webinar hosted between ASA and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on April 8, 2020. A recording of the webinar, Help Financial Caregivers Understand Their Role and Protect Loved Ones from Exploitation is available online, and CE credits are available until May 8, 2020.

By Beverly Yang

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we connect with family, friends, coworkers, and our communities. It’s also changed the way senior service providers engage with their clients. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office for Older Americans offers resources that can help you connect with clients to prevent and report fraud and elder financial exploitation. Here are 3 things you can do.

Be aware of and share information about scams related to the coronavirus

Scammers may offer fake testing kits and treatments, prey on generosity and create a fake charity, or create realistic-looking government or financial websites to get access to people’s personal information. During this time, older adults may be interacting less often with family, friends, neighbors, and senior service providers due to social distancing. This can increase their risk of financial fraud, and also make it difficult to prevent, recognize, and report it.

Knowing about possible scams is a good first step toward preventing them. The Money Smart for Older Adults resource guide and our scam prevention handouts and activities offer telltale signs of a variety of scams. Learn more about coronavirus-related scams.

Stay in touch.

Phone calls and video chats can help you connect with older adults and their families when health officials encourage limiting contact. Check in and ask questions if your client expresses concerns about money or mentions unusual activity. Some clients need help picking up groceries, prescriptions, and other necessary supplies. Encourage them to make sure they’re finding reliable and trustworthy help or arrange a delivery with a well-known company. If someone they don’t know offers to help, encourage them to be wary. Some scammers offer to buy supplies but never return with the goods or money.

Help your clients and their loved ones spot fraud and exploitation.

The CFPB’s Managing Someone Else’s Money guides can help financial caregivers understand their role as a fiduciary. Each guide explains responsibilities, and how to spot financial exploitation and avoid scams.

Help spread the word and keep those you serve from falling for a scam, regardless of their age or health status. If you spot a scam, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

About the author: Beverly Yang, J.D., is a Policy Analyst in the Office for Older Americans at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency whose mission is to protect consumers from financial harm.


Millions of Americans are managing money or property for a loved one who’s unable to make financial decisions or pay bills. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) created the Managing Someone Else’s Money guides to help financial caregivers understand their duties, learn how to protect loved ones from financial exploitation and scams, and find help if they need it.

To learn more about helping financial caregivers understand their role and protect loved ones from exploitation, join the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for a free web seminar. Register here to watch the on-demand webinar and learn how to claim complimentary CE credit.