We all experience those annoying scam phone calls, and while they are a nuisance, they can actually pose a dangerous threat to seniors. According to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on aging, older adults have lost nearly $2.9 billion in scams. There are a variety of scams that specifically target seniors, whether it’s on the phone, in the mail, or through the Internet. However, understanding what these scams are and how to avoid them will help protect you from scam artists.
Types of Scams
There are hundreds of scams that target people each day, but these three scams are widely successful and target older adults.
Social Security Scams
Recently, there has been an increase in social security scams. In this type of scam, usually a person or an automated voice will claim that there is a problem associated with your social security number. Oftentimes, the caller will threaten the victim with jail time or fees. Scammers use these tactics to get your social security number and gain access to your personal and financial information. If you receive a call like this, hang up immediately. Social Security will not contact you by phone unless you contact their offices first.
The Grandparent Scam
It’s the oldest trick in the book, but it never fails to fool people. In this scam, a caller will act as a grandchild of the person on the receiving end. The person posing as the grandchild will usually ask for money after explaining that they’ve been in an accident or are in trouble. Worried about their loved one, the senior will send money through the mail or through a wire transfer.
The first thing to do in this situation is to hang up the phone, and call your grandchild or their parents to confirm the situation. Move slowly, and make sure to think through every action.
These types of scams usually gain popularity after natural disasters and during the holiday season. Callers will claim to be representing a charity for a local cause, when in reality they are conning the victim for access to their credit cards or cash. Many times, these callers will be aggressive and won’t take no for an answer. Most creditable charities do not pressure their donors into making a contribution. If you think you might be getting scammed, do your research. Use the computer or phone book to access the charity and call for more information.
How to Protect Yourself
- Keep your personal information private. Never give out your credit card or social security numbers.
- Take your time with decision-making. If you are ever approached for money over the phone, the last thing you want to do is to act quickly. Do your research, make follow-up calls, or discuss the situation with someone you trust.
- Sign up for the Do Not Call List. You can register your phone number to limit the number of telemarketing calls. You can access the list here.
How to Protect Your Loved One
Here are a few signs that your loved one may be a victim of a financial scam:
- Bills are not being paid on time
- There are unusual charges on a credit card or bank statement
- The senior is isolating him or herself
- There are signs of excess “junk mail” such as magazine subscriptions or sweepstakes mailings.
If you suspect that you or your loved one is being targeted through a scamming effort, you can always call your local law enforcement team. Our Carespring facilities in Dayton, Cincinnati, and Northern Kentucky keep our patients’ safety a top priority through daily interaction and visits. If you’re interested in learning more about our facilities, please feel free to contact us here.