Protecting seniors from elderly scams

by Paradise Living Center

womanWe’ve seen it on the news and heard stories of it time and time again – scammers pretending to be someone else and taking thousands of dollars from the elderly. Many seniors may not be aware of the possible danger of scammers and can easily get caught in a web of deceit. This 87-year-old woman from Phoenix lost $17,000 when a criminal, who was pretending to be a police captain, convinced her to withdraw money from her bank account and give it to him.

It can be difficult for anyone to tell the difference between a scammer and the real deal. A Sedona business owner was recently cheated out of $1,200 by someone pretending to work at a local utility. Seniors are often targeted to gain access to retirement funds or other financial resources that appeal to scammers. They are often trusting when request for information appear official in an email and don’t always know to question if the source is real or think it may be a scam.

Five ways to protect seniors, and yourself, from scams:

Hang up the phone. In the moment, it may seem like a bad idea to hang up on your ‘utility’ or ‘bank’, but if you have any suspicions about a call or email – do not provide information without proof. Call the number directly on your bank statement or utility bill and ask if there are truly any problems.

Ask for ID. If someone comes to the door, even if they’re not in uniform, it is best  to ask to see their ID. If you’re still not sure, call the company/administration they claim to represent to confirm.

Explain why. Warning your loved ones about scammers is the first step, it is another to recognize a scam when it happens. Explain why something might be a scam and share examples of incidents. For example, if you are asked to wire money or gift cards—it is most likely a scam. The same goes for requests to make payments over the phone or via email or claims of contest winnings that require a payment to collect your prized.

Report the incident. It’s important to let the authorities know immediately if you or a family member are victim to a scam. It may be embarrassing, but reporting the issue may help to recoup money or take steps to protect identity or personal accounts. It’s also vital to file a report, to help find the culprits and protect others.

Join the ‘do not call’ list. Visit www.donotcall.gov to register on the ‘do not call’ list. This will help limit telemarketers contacting your senior loved one and deter phone calls from scammers. You can also join the Direct Marketing Associations opt-out list to limit junk mail.

Seniors lose $36.48 billion each year due to elder financial abuse, according to a 2015 study from True Link Financial. Because seniors are more vulnerable to scams, they are being targeted by phone, online and in-person but over the phone and online. It’s important to educate your loved ones and be aware of current scams. CBS 5 has a weekly scam watch segment, where you can learn about and report scams.