You don’t have to go far in our community to hear stories about seniors who have been scammed. Home Instead Senior Care urges families to be alert for scammers who may be targeting their senior loved ones with a variety of clever cons. These frauds could jeopardize not only seniors’ life savings but their independence.
The top three crimes targeting seniors are identify theft, Medicaid/Medicare and medication fraud, and financial exploitation. The demographics of an aging population and the sophistication of scammers are adding up to big losses – both financially and emotionally – for older adults.
The nonprofit National Association of Triads and your local Home Instead Senior Care® office have launched a program to educate families and seniors about how to protect themselves to prevent cons from happening. By arming older adults with information and helping them feel more secure, seniors can have the confidence they need to ward off an onslaught of scammers and fraudsters. The Protect Seniors from FraudSM program provides family caregivers with a number of tools at ProtectSeniorsFromFraud.com.
Included in the website’s resources is a Criminal Target Scale, which can help family caregivers assess how likely their senior is to be the potential target of a scam. A Senior Fraud Protection Kit also is available from your local franchise office.
To help keep seniors from being exploited:
- Shred documents that could be useful to criminals. Documents that must be preserved should be stored in a safe deposit box.
- Insist that your senior check with the Better Business Bureau before he or she acts on a phone call or a piece of mail, or agrees to a visit from an unknown person, business or charity.
- Add seniors to the national Do-Not-Call Registry. Instruct them to hang up if they get solicitation calls.
- Insist that your senior never give out personal information or money over the phone.
- Make sure a charity is registered with the state attorney general.
- Establish a strong defense by posting a “No Solicitation” notice by a senior loved one’s front door.
- Educate your senior loved one about email phishing tactics such as prizes that need “fees” to be paid to claim.
- Watch for individuals who have befriended your loved one. Lonely or isolated seniors may be vulnerable to criminals who befriend them and provide companionship.
- Watch your senior for changes in his or her lifestyle as well as any other unusual financial or business activity. If a senior can no longer handle the finances, encourage your loved one to put a plan in place that can help ensure bills are paid and assets are protected.
- If you can’t be there for your senior, find trustworthy people who can serve as eyes and ears for seniors by screening door-to-door scammers and others who seek to exploit by telephone or computer.
For more information about the Protect Seniors from Fraud program, please contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office at 541-734-2700.