Senior scams, cons targeting elderly citizens, are so big now that they have been dubbed “The crime of the 21st century”, and with Spring just around the corner, the prevalence of these scams are only going to pick up. Below are some tips for caregivers and Home Health Care Aides to recognize and avoid these scams:
Register your number with the “Do Not Call” Registry:
Seniors are twice as likely to make purchases over the phone than any other age group, and because of this, Telemarketers are eager to call and sell phony products and services to older individuals.
One of the best ways to reduce your odds of being scammed by a Telemarketer is to avoid the call in the first place. Register your friend or loved one’s number in the National Do Not Call Registry, and report any suspicious numbers calling immediately.
Tell your friend or loved one to be on the lookout for the most common forms of telemarketing scams. These are: Someone pretending to be a child or grandchild who needs money because of an emergency immediately. Someone who calls stating they have come across a great deal of money and is willing to split it with you, provided you wire them a “good faith payment”. And, someone calling regarding solicitation for donations to charities that do not exist. If you’re friend or loved one gets one of these calls, do some research on the Internet and verify the identity of these callers before they make any financial decisions.
Medicare “discount” frauds:
Another popular scam targeting seniors is the offer of Medicare “discount” cards. While these cards do exist, they can only be purchased directly through Medicare.gov. Meaning, these cards cannot be purchased over the phone, nor can they be bought through door-to-door sales.
Additionally, if someone selling these cards states they need to see “proof of income” from your friend or loved one, then hang up or close the door immediately. The government is able to access your income directly from the IRS, so there’s no need for seniors to be required to “prove” their income levels.
Avoid “phishy” emails:
Seniors may not be as Internet “savvy” of some of the younger demographics, but are much more likely to have “nest eggs” built up and/or have excellent credit scores. Because of this, seniors are more likely to be the subject of email scams, called “phishing”.
The old adage, “if it seems too good to be true, it is”, is good advice to adhere to when checking your email. If someone writes that you have won some “million dollar sweepstakes,” but just needs your friend or loved one to submit their personal information to verify their identity, delete it. If someone from another country promises to split a multi-million dollar inheritance with you, but you need to send them your information and some “processing” payments first, delete it.
Use your best judgement when checking you or your friend or loved one’s email, if it promises you a big return in exchange for you paying first or submitting personal information, including your social security number, report and delete the email.
Additionally, avoid clicking “links” that seem weird, or a little off. Links like these often contain viruses that can install on your computer and steal personal and financial information.
Remember this, if it’s important enough, someone will get ahold of you, and they’ll be more than happy to identify who they are. If they are unwilling, or uncooperative in doing so, then there’s a good chance it’s a scam.
Finally, if you’re unsure, get a second opinion. Having another set of eyes take a look at the call or email might be able to point out some warning signs you may have missed.