We know our elders are prime targets of scams and fraud, and we try our best to protect them. But it’s difficult to keep up with the proliferation of these unfortunate situations. It is important that our elders have an advocate who can help protect them from scams and fraud. Springpoint at Home’s Aging Life Care Advisors™/Care Managers can fulfill that role.
So, what is a family to do? First, have a discussion with your elder about how prevalent scams are and how easy it is to be an unexpected victim. Scams prey on a person’s vulnerability, especially the fear that someone they love is in trouble. If your elder is reluctant to have this discussion, a Springpoint at Home Aging Life Care Advisor™/Care Manager can approach the topic with them or join and help facilitate the family discussion.
Because most people feel ashamed and embarrassed when they are a victim of a scam, they typically will not tell anyone. In addition, they do not want to admit to being scammed for fear they will lose their independence or be viewed as incompetent or naive. This reluctance can be especially true if an elder has been abused by family or friends who, for example, opened a credit card in their name. Keeping an eye on finances and having an open discussion goes a long way in preventing or recouping a loss.
The Top Financial Scams Targeting Older Adults from the National Council on Aging
- Government impersonation scams pretend to be from the IRS, Social Security, or Medicare and will ask for Personal Identifying Information.
- Sweepstakes and lottery scams require you to send money, cash, or gift cards in order to claim their winnings.
- Robocalls and phone scams run the gamut from claiming that a warranty has expired and requiring payment to renew, an “impending lawsuit” which requires paying a fine by a certain deadline, or even the simple question, “Can you hear me?” When a person answers “yes,” their voice is recorded and then that voice signature is used to authorize unwanted charges on things like stolen credit cards.
- Computer tech support scams can be perpetrated with a pop-up message on a computer screen or a phone call saying that your device is damaged and a fee is needed to fix it.
- Disaster or health crisis like COVID-19 ignited a new round of scams designed to offer cures or vaccines for money or personal information.
- Medicare and health insurance scams, when someone posing as a representative, offers bogus services that never happen. The con artist bills Medicare and pockets the money. All scammers will try to get your personal information.
- Home repair scams target energy-efficient upgrades. After accepting an initial deposit, they will disappear or do subpar work. People who live near a recent natural disaster are often targeted.
Basic Steps to Avoid Senior Scams
- Be wary of anything that seems too good to be true.
- Watch out for incoming communications via phone calls and emails.
- Add extra security to your accounts. Turn on multifactor authentication for online accounts.
- Avoid odd payment-type requests like wire transfers, money orders, gift cards, payment applications, or cryptocurrency.
How to Report Scams and Fraud
- Start by contacting your local police and filing a report.
- If you have already shared personal information or sent money, report the fraud/scam to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
- You can get a personalized recovery plan from the FTC using IdentitifyTheft.gov.
- Report the fraud to Adult Protective Services. You can contact them via the Eldercare Locator, a government sponsored national resource line, at 1-800-677-1116 or their website.
- Contact the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-372-3811.
As advocates, Springpoint at Home’s Aging Life Care Advisors™/Care Managers will help to educate your elder about scams, keep an eye on any suspicious activity when they visit the home, and can assist with reporting. Keeping your elder safe goes beyond just physical safety.
To learn more about Springpoint at Home, call 844-724-1777.