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Tips To Protect Aging Loved Ones From Phone Scams

There are many phone scams including the "grandparent scam" in which someone calls to tell them their grandchild is in trouble and needs money for bail or medical treatment. They're told to send money via Western Union or other methods.

As the population ages and technology increases, the ability for scammers to come up with new and innovative ways to take advantage rises.

In the mid-1700s when President Thomas Jefferson walked the grounds of Monticello, half of the population in the United States was under the age of sixteen. Compare that to the numbers that show that by the year 2030, those over the age of 65 will outnumber teenagers two to one! These statistics are dramatic and are due to the fact that modern medicine has extended our life span. When you consider the numbers, it’s easy to see why so many of today’s adults are in a caregiving role for family members that are 65-years-old or older.

As a caregiver you’re tasked with many roles including caring for the house your parents are living in, taking care of errands and doctor visits, cooking the meals, making certain they are taking their medications, the list goes on. There are myriad threats posed to seniors that are aging in place, trip and fall accidents and other health emergencies, but those can be addressed through the use of a personal medical monitoring device but, threats to financial safety need to be discussed and action plans implemented. When you go home at night you trust that all will be well, but there is another threat that may be posed to your aging loved ones, telemarketers and door-to-door salespeople.

There are many scams including the “grandparent scam” in which someone calls to tell them their grandchild is in trouble and needs money for bail or medical treatment. They’re told to send money via Western Union or other methods. Because your parents will naturally want to help out their grandchild, they may not hesitate to wire funds or even give sensitive personal, financial information over the phone to assure their grandchild’s health and safety.

When it comes to threats on seniors that are intent on aging in place, the grandparent scam is only one of many being perpetrated. From door-to-door salesmen looking to gain entry to sell insurance or home repairs only to return later and burglarize the home to telemarketers offering free home security or free upgrades to a “better” home medical monitoring device, it’s crucial to sit down with your aging relatives and give them tips to keep them safe.

Consider that more than 10% of the population today is made up of senior citizens there is a large pool of potential victims. There are many factors that make senior citizens more vulnerable to fraud, including:

  • An innate desire to help
  • Loneliness may make them more likely to open the door to a stranger
  • Seniors are typically home alone during the day and this makes them easy prey
  • They were raised in an era that promoted a trustworthy attitude and therefore are more open to being duped
  • If they’re suffering a diminished mental capacity it could impair their cognitive functions and lead to faulty decision-making

How can you protect your loved one from unscrupulous salespeople or telemarketers?

  • Stress to them that they should never give our credit card, driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, bank account numbers or their birthdates over the telephone or to someone who comes to the door.
  • If they receive a phone call that a grandchild is in trouble they should immediately call the family to see if this is the case.
  • Tell them to not open the door to strangers, in any instance. If the home is in need of roof repairs or if the driveway needs to be resurfaced, this is something the family caregiver would be aware of; it’s not something a door-to-door sales person would be advising them on.

As a caregiver, there are many items you need to keep track of on a day to day basis when it comes to caring for your aging loved ones but talking to them immediately about the potential for these scams can relieve some of the worry and add to the peace of mind for all involved.