Protecting Seniors from Scams

Published: July 14, 2022 | Blog

Countless seniors fall victim to scams each year. Scammers recognize the vulnerability of individuals in this age group and take advantage of that vulnerability. Sadly, a person’s safety and retirement funds are on the line. Seniors tend to be more trusting and will provide their financial and personal information without hesitation. 

One problem law enforcement encounters when it comes to these scams is the victim’s unwillingness to report the scam. They either don’t know they were scammed or are too embarrassed to admit they are a victim. At times, they feel nobody will believe them. As a result, the scammers often go unchecked for an extended period. How can a retirement community help seniors recognize these scams so they don’t fall victim? 

Social Interactions

One reason seniors fall victim to scams if they suffer from loneliness or isolation. The scammer spends time talking to them and making them feel less alone, so they are willing to share personal information with this person. They become friends with this person or so they believe. As a result, when the scammer asks for money, they hand it over willingly, just as they would do with a loved one or family member. 

Family members and senior community staff members need to pay attention to seniors. If they suddenly start talking about a new friend that doesn’t live within the community or they start spending time with someone who is not a resident, red flags need to go up. The same is true when they become reticent and refuse to answer questions or provide information without speaking to the new friend first. 

Isolation and loneliness remain concerns when it comes to seniors. Senior living communities need to encourage residents to engage in activities within the community to reduce the risk of loneliness and isolation. Furthermore, family members need to speak to the staff if they have concerns about a resident and recent behavior, particularly when it may be related to isolation or loneliness. 

Respite Care

At times, seniors fall victim to scams perpetrated by caregivers. The caregiver earns the senior’s trust over time and is given more freedom when the senior’s personal and financial information. For example, the caregiver may take on the task of paying the senior’s bills. They then abuse this trust by taking money or securing a credit card in the senior’s name and using it for their personal expenses. How can this be avoided? 

Families need to ensure caregivers receive adequate pay for their work. In addition, they need a break from caring for the senior. If they suffer from financial or emotional stress, they may steal the senior’s assets. Respite care provides them a much-needed break from the emotional stress, while fair pay helps to reduce the financial stress. 

Family members may provide this respite care or they may choose to work with a senior living community or an agency dedicated to senior care to obtain this care for their loved one. Families must choose a reputable senior living community for this purpose, so the senior doesn’t fall victim to a scam there. They can’t leave the respite care provider to chance. 

Medical Care

Seniors typically need more medical care than younger individuals. Scammers realize this and often create scams involving medical information. Every United States citizen becomes eligible for Medicare when they turn 65. A scammer might offer a free diagnostic screening and state they need a copy of the senior’s insurance card. They might also provide blank insurance forms and have the senior sign them to receive their benefits. They then use this signature to obtain credit cards in the senior’s name or things of that nature. 

Seniors should never respond to anything sent to them through email unless they specifically requested it. Staff members should work with residents to educate them on these scams. The staff should be available to help seniors reviews documents related to medical care and ensure they are genuine. 

Grandparent Scams

No grandparent wants to learn their grandchild is in trouble. They want to immediately help and will often fall victim to a scam where they provide money to help the grandchild only to learn this money went to a scammer. Grandparents need to know how to identify these scams. For example, they should ask the individual questions only the grandchild would know. 

Often seniors ask their grandchild want their parents’ names are, but scammers can easily access this information. The grandparent must ask questions only the grandchild would know. This ensures the person on the other end of the phone is who they say they are. If this isn’t possible, the grandparent should call other family members to learn if the grandchild is truly in trouble or if they are being scammed. 

Unsolicited Offers

Seniors should never respond to unsolicited offers. If a person is offered a great deal, they should do their own research to ensure the offer is legitimate. Have a friend, family member, or staff member of the senior community review the offer. Take the time to read contracts and purchasing agreements before signing anything and understand how the contract can be canceled and what the refund terms are. Seniors should never bow to pressure. If someone is extremely pushy, the senior needs to refuse to complete the purchase and ask for advice before proceeding. 

Whether a senior lives at home, in an independent living community, or with family members, they may fall victim to scams. Knowing what to look for when it comes to these fraudulent activities reduces the risk of this happening. Talk with loved ones to ensure they know how to spot a scam and when to contact a family member or staff members of a senior living community for help. It’s always better to ask if something seems suspicious. 

About The Chelsea at Warren:

The Chelsea at Warren strives to improve the daily lifestyle and wellness opportunities for older individuals looking for a home environment where they are surrounded by respect and dignity. The community values caring, commitment, constancy, and competency. Residents benefit from independent living accommodations, luxurious amenities, and tailored wellness plans.