Help Your Loved Ones Identify Scams That Target Seniors
Each year seniors lose billions of dollars to criminals running a wide range of scams. It’s a major concern for baby boomers, whose parents are often at an age where they have accumulated savings and have good credit but are also vulnerable. Many Culver City, CA seniors are also not familiar with computers and can be very trusting. You can protect parents and grandparents from these criminals by familiarizing yourself with common scams, reviewing seniors’ finances, and helping them learn how to recognize scams.
There Are Many Types of Scams
Financial fraud is incredibly commonplace among the elderly. Seniors living in their own homes are easy targets. Living in a senior community offers protection against some scams, but residents may be vulnerable to some scams because they don’t understand financial matters. Those who require assisted living with memory care are especially easy marks for criminals.
Experts recommend that adult children who are helping parents and grandparents get duplicate copies of their financial records to identify suspicious activity like unusual bills or collection accounts from unrecognized lenders.
While financial fraud is most common, there are several types of fraud to watch out for. Seniors living alone or in assisted living homes often become victims of schemes that include:
- Romantic scams: Criminals on social media and dating sites pose as potential companions for seniors. In the process, they get close enough to gather valuable personal information.
- Government personnel scheme: Scammers pose as government employees say they will arrest or prosecute seniors unless they agree to provide funds.
- Sweepstakes/lottery/charity scams: Fraudsters collect money by claiming to work for legitimate charities. They might also claim seniors have won foreign sweepstakes or lottery but must pay a fee to collect the money.
- TV/radio scams: Criminals target the elderly via fraudulent advertisements for legitimate services like credit repair or reverse mortgages.
- Family scams: Seniors’ relatives or acquaintances take advantage of them and use various methods to get their money.
Talking to Seniors About Fraud
When a senior has been a victim of fraud, it is tempting for family members to demand power of attorney or give their relatives a stern warning. But AARP experts advise that this course can have unpleasant emotional fallout even if the steps work. It is far better to talk to the elderly, explain how scams work, and diplomatically show them how to protect themselves.
Independent seniors rarely admit they were wrong because they don’t want anyone to think they can’t handle their affairs, whether they live alone or in an assisted living community.
Forewarned Is Forearmed
Education is one of the best ways to prevent elder fraud. The more seniors understand scams, the less chance they will become victims.
Seniors are not always tech-savvy, so it’s essential that they learn to recognize scams like fake emails from familiar sources like Amazon, Netflix, or other companies. If they learn not to open an email with an unfamiliar address, they’re way ahead of the game.
Be clear with parents and grandparents that government agencies and other authorities never make unsolicited calls requesting personal information. Seniors should also know that lottery and sweepstakes winners do not need to pay fees to get their cash.
It’s critical that the elderly question any questionable caller claiming to be a child or grandchild asking for money. Seniors are well within their rights to request that callers prove their identity.
Explain that legitimate businesses do not pressure customers to make quick decisions, but scammers often do. Advise seniors to shut down their computers instantly if they see a locked screen or odd pop-up. They should also ensure they have reputable anti-virus software.
What You Can Do to Keep Seniors Safe
Staying in touch with the elderly is necessary to protect them from fraud. Avoid lecturing seniors. Try reminding them that they once taught you not to talk to strangers, and the advice still holds for them-especially if strangers want money or personal information.
Other things you can do include:
- Keeping an eye on seniors’ credit reports and watching for unusual activity
- Adding parents’ and grandparents’ addresses to direct marketing opt-out lists
- Ensuring seniors’ phone numbers are unlisted and encouraging them to get cell phones, which get fewer scam calls.
- Consider calling a fraud hotline, like AARP’s Fraud Fighter Call Center, at 800-646-2283. It’s a toll-free call, and representatives will contact seniors and identify scams.
Senior citizens lose billions of dollars to scams every year, but there are ways to safeguard against this fraud. Children and grandchildren can educate themselves and older relatives about common frauds. Relatives can also help by staying close to the elderly, keeping an eye on their finances, and removing their personal data from phone and mail lists.
Terraza Court is a senior community located in Culver City and dedicated to providing exceptional senior care. Residents enjoy a well-balanced combination of daily support, services, and amenities, so each one can live their best life.