Scams targeting the elderly are unfortunately extremely common in our society. Seniors grew up in a “different time,” and are sadly seen as easy prey by criminals. Financial scams can cause serious stress for seniors and their families, and falling victim to fraud and scams can even negatively impact your loved one’s health due to stress.
The numbers are as sobering as you might suspect. Although it is likely underreported due to embarassment, estimates of senior financial abuse costs to senior Americans range from nearly $3 billion to more than $36 billion annually.
You can take steps to protect your senior loved ones from fraud and scams.
Telephone scams are still very commonly used to target seniors, although email phishing and texting are also more commonly used today. Door-to-door “salesmen,” mail order fraud…there are seemingly endless ways criminals seek to take advantage of seniors. Here are some of the top senior financial scams:
– Medicare/health insurance scams
– Counterfeit prescription drugs
– Funeral and cemetery scams
– Fraudulent anti-aging products
– Telemarketing/phone scams
– Investment schemes
– Homeowner/reverse mortgage scams
– Sweepstakes and lottery scams
How to protect Mom or Dad from common scams
These tips can help you keep Mom or Dad safe from these common financial scams:
In the case of scams targeting the elderly, awareness and knowledge are your first line of defense. Share this blog with your loved one, and talk through the common scams in the above list. Lay things out bluntly for your parent — remember, they’re adults who have lived long lives. They have seen and experienced plenty of things in their lives! Still, they may not realize with so many technological advancements that the IRS won’t call you and ask for information, they’ll send a letter (the IRS scam is one of the most popular scams targeting seniors on the U.S.!). Even charities are unlikely to call and ask for information. If your loved one isn’t sure and wants to donate, tell Mom or Dad to ask for something in the mail. This can weed out any potential scams, but still allow them to donate and support causes they find important.
Do not talk down to your loved one.
The truth is that any of us can fall victim to fraud or scams (and we frequently do!). Criminals often target seniors, though, because they are seen as “easy prey.” It’s important not to talk down to your loved one when discussing scams. Instead, be honest and forthcoming to arm Mom or Dad with information, not shame them into worrying.
Help Mom or Dad with technology.
Technology opens up an entirely new world of scams for seniors, and criminals are highly skilled at making spam and scams look like legitimate messages or links. Encouraging Mom or Dad to send you suspicious-looking texts or messages can help prevent phishing or other tech-focused scams. Better yet, help Mom or Dad set privacy settings to make it harder for scammers to reach them online. If your loved one is on Facebook or other social media sites, show them examples of Facebook scams and other “bad links” that should be avoided.
Make it harder for scammers to call.
If Mom or Dad still uses a landline phone, call the telephone company to have the number unlisted. Or better yet, replace the landline phone with a cell phone, which typically receives far fewer scam calls. Be sure Mom or Dad does not enter their phone number anywhere online, so that it’s difficult for scammers to find.
Keep Mom or Dad safe at home.
At Interim HealthCare, our senior home care services look out for your loved one’s physical and emotional needs. From helping with daily tasks to ensuring your loved one takes prescribed medications (and so much more), we are here to help your senior loved ones live their best lives. To learn more about our senior home care services, contact your local Interim HealthCare location.