Do you worry that your elder is too trusting and may become the victim of a scam? It is a difficult subject to broach because shame and embarrassment are typically involved when someone is scammed. In addition, many elders worry that if they admit they were scammed, then family members will think they are unable to take care of themselves.
But loss of money or possessions due to scams can be devastating to older adults because they may not be able to earn back what was lost. Having another set of eyes on what is happening in your elder’s home is especially helpful if you live far away. Springpoint at Home’s Aging Life Care Advisor™/Care Manager Team can help. Our check-in visits allow us to enhance preventive measures and if something catches our attention, let the family know our concern.
It is important to have a conversation about the possibility of being scammed and the best approach to the topic is a non-threatening conversation. The upcoming holidays are a good time to bring up the subject and to observe things in the household, especially if you have not been together for a while due to the pandemic.
A good way to introduce the topic is to talk about how annoying all these phone calls are. Explain how you are wary when they ask for personal information, including text messages that claim to be from a bank or credit card company, goading you to click on a link. Even more upsetting are the phone calls that use fear to get money, like the “grandparent” scam, which is when someone pretends to be a grandchild and asks the elder to send money for anything from car repairs to posting jail bond.
Continue the conversation by sharing the most common scams and what your elder can do if someone tries to scam them.
- Government impersonation scams – help your elder understand that the IRS, Social Security, and Medicare will never call you. They only communicate with you through mail from the United States Postal Service. Simply hang up immediately and report the call.
- Sweepstakes and lottery scams – a true sweepstakes or lottery do not require you to send money to receive the prize; that includes well-known organizations like Publishers Clearing House.
- Robocalls and phone scams – the most common call is, “Can you hear me?” If you say yes, the scammer records your voice and hangs up, using the voice signature to authorize unwanted charges on things like stolen credit cards.
- Computer tech support scams – when a pop-up message or blank screen appears on a computer, saying there is a problem. The message then asks to call a number or click to allow remote access. It may even say that turning off the computer will damage it. It is okay to ignore the message and simply turn the computer off.
Let your elder know that a scam phone call, email, or message should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357). The second step is to contact the Hotline at 833-372-8311 so they can track the frequency of the scam.
If you worry your elder is vulnerable, here are some things you can do:
- Have the conversation about protecting themselves from scams more than once.
- With permission, watch their financial accounts online for unusual activity.
- Be aware of packages ordered and unopened.
- Look for and throw away mail solicitations for contests. Contact the company and ask to be removed from the mailing list.
- You can unsubscribe your phone from telemarketing sales calls by visiting DoNotCall.gov or calling 1-888-382-1222. However, calls may still come in from scammers and robocalls.
If you suspect your elder has been scammed but can’t prove it:
- Talk to the older person and let them know that scams are designed to catch us off-guard, and that they can happen to anyone. It is nothing to be ashamed of if you think you have been scammed.
- Gather as much information or evidence as possible.
- Let your elder’s financial institutions know what is going on.
- Contact law enforcement.
To learn more about Springpoint at Home’s Aging Life Care Advisor™/Care Manager Team or the benefit of our services, call 844-724-1777.