This January, as our loved ones are by themselves, we want to make sure they don’t fall prey to obvious scams. They may not deal enough with technology to recognize when something is off. This is why scammers prey on older people more than anyone else. Fraudsters target older adults using a variety of scams and manage to steal $37 billion each year from American seniors.
Some scams may specifically target the vulnerabilities of certain seniors. They may also rely on well-known brand names or someone’s unfamiliarity with the technology and social media. Keep your senior loved ones safe by talking to them often about who calls, the mail they receive, and talk openly and often! Scammers often think older adults are not smart enough to know the difference, but you can help your loved one know what to look out for in this world of greedy scammers!
This is why you need a personal care aid you know and can trust. A Caring Hand Services provides that.
What should you look out for? Here are some typical scenarios:
- The Miracle Cure
Seniors already feel vulnerable when they have been diagnosed with a chronic or long-term health condition. It can leave them desperate for a cure, and one of the most common scams on seniors today is the “miracle cure” scams. Here are a few tips to help:
- Never take anything that did not come from the treating physician. Even if it’s a supplement bought in a place that feels safe, advertising can be very misleading with outrageous claims that do nothing more than extract your senior’s hard-earned money.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Promises of a cure or a life without sickness are enticing. But that alone should cause you to pause and be suspicious.
- Telemarketer Tips
Telemarketers prey on seniors, who are often lonely and enjoy engaging in conversation. Seniors may not be aware of common scam tactics such as:
- Rewards that are “free,” yet require a small fee to be able to receive it.
- Asking for a personal credit card or checking account information.
- Being pushy about a purchase—the scammer doesn’t want to lose the sale!
- Trying to sell services that require payment ahead of time.
Examples of telemarketing fraud include:
The pigeon drop
- The con artist tells the individual that he/she has found a large sum of money and is willing to split it if the person will make a “good faith” payment by withdrawing funds from his/her bank account. Often, a second con artist is involved, posing as a lawyer, banker, or some other trustworthy stranger.
The fake accident ploy
- The con artist gets the victim to wire or send money on the pretext that the person’s child or another relative is in the hospital and needs the money.
3. Charity scams
- Money is solicited for fake charities. This often occurs after natural disasters.
4. Medicare/health insurance scams
Every U.S. citizen over age 65 qualifies for Medicare, so there is rarely any need for a scam artist to research what private health insurance company older people have in order to scam them out of some money.
In these types of scams, perpetrators may pose as a Medicare representative to get older people to give them their personal information, or they will provide bogus services for elderly people at makeshift mobile clinics, then use the personal information they provide to bill Medicare and pocket the money. According to the National Council on Aging, the number one scam perpetrated against seniors involves fraudulent Medicare claims. Medicare scams can take many different forms, but the most common scam is for a perpetrator to simply obtain someone else’s Medicaid number by fraudulent means and then submit false claims for services or products that were never provided.
5. Internet fraud
While using the Internet is a great skill at any age, the slower speed of adoption among some older people makes them easier targets for automated Internet scams that are ubiquitous on the web and email programs. Pop-up browser windows simulating virus-scanning software will fool victims into either downloading a fake anti-virus program or an actual virus that will open up whatever information is on the user’s computer to scammers.
Their unfamiliarity with the less visible aspects of browsing the web make seniors especially susceptible to such traps. One example includes:
6. Email/phishing scams
A senior receives email messages that appear to be from a legitimate company or institution, asking them to “update” or “verify” their personal information. A senior receives emails that appear to be from the IRS about a tax refund.
How Caregivers Can Stop Elder Fraud
If you care for someone who is at risk for elder fraud, there are steps you can take, especially if you’re noticing signs that scams are becoming an issue, to ensure your aging parent is safe at home. Share the signs of a scam with your loved one. Tell them that just because there are malicious people out there trying to take advantage of them, that doesn’t mean they’re incompetent and it’s okay to seek help.
Of all the tasks, emotions, time, and energy a caregiver puts into the well-being of an aging adult, the last thing they should have to worry about are scammers who are trying to take advantage of them. That being said, as long as a caregiver remains vigilant and watches out for the peculiar behavior of others, they are taking the necessary steps to prevent elder fraud.
Generally, scammers can rely on the novelty of an emerging social, economic or public health event, as well as confusion around it, to develop new fraud schemes that they use on seniors.
Finding Senior Care from a Trusted Source
Choose an agency you trust, like A Caring Hand Services. As a caregiver, they can help the seniors in your life avoid fraud and financial scams.