Unfortunately, seniors are at an increased risk of falling prey to financial and tech scams, often falling for fraudulent scams. Some of this is due to the fact that the elderly come from a generation that was more trusting, and cognitive skills often decline as we age. As concerned elder care experts, we want to help make you aware of some of the schemes your loved one may fall prey to - and how you can help prevent it.
Seniors lose almost $3 billion to fraud each year to financial elder abuse, according to the Senate's Special committee on Aging. This is really no surprise considering the explosion of fraud schemes on the Internet in addition to tax-refund schemes and Medicare scams.
What is the common denominator in nearly all fraud schemes? The perpetrator attempts to collect personal information such as a bank account or social security number, credit card number, etc. Most scam artists also try to pressure those who are elderly into making an immediate payment, using a method (such as pre-paid debit cards, cashier's checks, or money orders) that is not easily traceable, if at all.
How could your elderly loved one possibly fall prey to fraud?
It happens far more easily than you may think. Your aging parent may receive a call at home from someone who claims to need his/her banking details in order to issue a refund for services your parent received in the past - the refund, of course, will be made via direct deposit, the reason the person pretending to represent a company needs the banking information.
In some instances, young people will prey on those who are elderly by calling them and claiming to be a family member (grandson, nephew, etc.) who is vacationing in another city and has gotten into some type of trouble that requires financial assistance.
Unfortunately, many of the financial scams seniors fall prey to are perpetrated by their own family members. These may include health insurance/Medicare fraud, counterfeit prescription drugs which may be purchased online, funeral and cemetery scams, telemarketing and investment schemes, and even reverse mortgage scams, according to an article at the National Council on Aging.
What can you do to reduce the risk of your aging loved one becoming the victim of a financial or tech scam? First, sign them up to put their telephone number on the list at the Do-Not-Call registry. You can do this by visiting DoNotCall.gov online, or by calling 888-382-1222. Encourage those who are elderly to report the matter if they do fall victim to a fraud scheme, and most important of all, talk to your aging parent about not giving out information such as bank account or credit card numbers over the phone or on the Internet when asked for this information. If your elderly loved one uses a computer or electronic device, be sure it is protected with an up-to-date antivirus program.
At Care Indeed, we understand there are many issues that come with aging, and that financial fraud is a real and growing concern. Our Menlo Park home caregivers care not only about your loved one's health and safety, but protection from financial scams as well.
Home care is derived from the belief that older adults should be able to age at home with the level of care they need to be safe and comfortable.