One of approximately 10,000 people a day 65 or older falls victim to another old scam targeting the elderly. Elderly make great targets because they often own their own home, retirement funds, soft hearts from their trusting upbringing of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and their inability to provide the best testimonials for prosecution in court. Most scams are being preformed over the phone, where the elderly are more likely than any other demographic to make purchases and give personal information, but internet scams are increasingly targeting the elderly as well. Common con artists pose as those offering more affordable health insurance, prescriptions, mortgage and financial services. The worst scam is the phone call that alarms the elderly of a grand or great grandchild in danger or hurt already. Last week we discussed these potential dangers, and here is a list of more to be familiar with so you or someone you love doesn’t fall victim.
Maintenance Men At Your Door
Someone might come to your door in what looks like a uniform and talking about some repair that needs to be made to the home. This person might be doing this to enter the home and see what there is to steal later on, or they could not make any repair or do a poor job and charge you for it. Another thing to watch out for is a “distraction scam” where one con has you in the backyard talking about a repair, while another enters your home and steals what they are able. Remember that legitimate maintenance men will not solicit door to door and you don’t want to hire anyone without proper licensing and references first.
This scam can also be carried out door to door, but is more often found in emails. The email will likely look like tech support for a virus protection software that needs updating or maintenance. They will ask for credit card information or other personal information in exchange for security. Ask for help in vetting your emails and never open links you aren’t sure about. The link itself can be a backdoor virus that searches computers for personal information.
Threats to Arrest
A phone caller may pose as a professional calling from the IRS or local government agency or office and tell you that you have some kind of fine, bill, or fee overdue and that you will face jail time if not paid immediately. This and other telephone scams will ask for credit card information or wire transfer over the phone. Know that no professional would show this type of aggression toward a debtor and that you shouldn’t be afraid, even if the caller knows personal information of yours such as your address. The caller is likely in another state far away and to feel safer, you can call the suggested authorities below to notify them of the incident.
Taking advantage of the single elderly is unfortunate and common. People of all ages have been “cat-fished” this way. You should never provide money or funds to any person you’ve never met, no matter if they are in trouble or presenting you with a “sound” investment opportunity. People who you’ve met online who truly care about you won’t mind you protecting yourself.
Adult Protective Services is a branch of government that can further assist you if you believe you might have been scammed or are being targeted. It’s also a good idea to have your bank’s phone number handy in case you need to freeze your accounts or notify them to be on alert for suspicious activity.
There is no need to feel embarrassed or afraid of the repercussions of your actions to protect yourself. Scams happen to people everywhere, of all ages. To obtain more information, call the Eldercare Locator, a government sponsored phone number at 1-800-677-1116 or visit www.eldercare.gov.