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Scams Affecting The Elderly

According to the FBI, senior citizens fall prey to scams and con artists at alarming rates each year. Part of the reason is because they are presumed to fall into categories attractive to con artists.

  • Senior citizens are most likely to have built-up savings and/or have excellent credit making them targets for those who would swindle them out of their hard-earned money.
  • This group of individuals was raised to be a little more trustworthy and polite. Con artists generally assume this group will be less likely to hang up or say no as easily as other groups.
  • Senior citizens are less likely to report fraudulent activity because they either don’t know who to report it to or they are too embarrassed to let anyone know.
  • It is less likely that elderly victims will be a great witness. Because of failing eyesight, memory or simply because of their trustworthy nature, the elderly tend to remember fewer details. Furthermore, it can be weeks or months before they realize they have fallen victim!
  • Con artists also realize that the elderly are more susceptible to products relating to health, memory, aging, and so on. Some of the largest scams involve products and services that are most interesting & useful to the elderly.

Recently, the Better Business Bureau published a list of the Top Ten Scams for 2013The article listed Medical Alert Scams, a product largely used by seniors, as the top scam last year and said:

Medical Alert Scam – A new twist to the telemarketing scam hit 2013 hard. With promises of a “free” medical alert system, the scam targeted seniors and caretakers and claimed to be offering the system free of charge because a family member or friend had already paid for it. Inmany cases, seniors were asked to provide their bank account or credit information to “verify” their identity and, as a result, were charged the monthly $35 service fee. The system, of course, never arrived and the seniors were left with a charge they had trouble getting refunded. Easy rule of thumb – be wary of “free” offers that require your personal information upfront and always verify with the supposed friend or family member that the caller says paid for the service.

LifeFone has, over the course of the past year, has talked to subscribers and prospects who have complained thinking that we, or another medical alert provider, are making these unwanted calls to them.  LifeFone’s policy and suggestions about these calls include:

  • LifeFone only contacts prospects that have contacted us first. We email or call to follow up only with those who have requested information from us.  If a caller asks that we not contact him or her further, we note and honor that request.
  • LifeFone does not engage in robo calling.  A robocall is a phone call that uses a computerized auto-dialer to deliver a pre-recorded message, as if from a robot.
  • Consumers should never provide personal information to an unknown caller.  If someone calls requesting personal information claiming to be LifeFone or any other company with whom you do business and you do not know the individual, do not provide that information to that caller.  Rather, call the company directly using their publicly listed telephone number.
  • Don’t respond to a robocall from an unknown company.  If you don’t recognize the number, don’t answer.  If it’s important, the caller will leave a message. Robo callers are often fishing for “live” numbers.  That’s why it’s best not to answer.
  • Should you answer a robocall by mistake, don’t press any keys to talk to a human, simply hang up.
  • Consumers should report any suspicious calls to the Better Business Bureau.  And if they ever hear the name LifeFone mentioned in a suspicious call, they should also contact us directly.  We can let them know if they spoke to a legitimate LifeFone representative or not.

In addition, the FBI & BBB list other types of scams perpetrated against the elderly. To get more information, you can visit these links.

Be sure to educate yourself and your elderly loved ones so you can avoid being victimized by one of these tricks to swindle you out of your hard earned money.