May 16, 2018 by Dean Bellefeuille

Protect Seniors from Phone Scams

Telephone cons targeted at older adults aren’t anything new, with an astounding $36 billion lost every year to financial abuse. And the most recent senior fraud scheme circulating is hard for most older adults to detect until it is too late. Center for Elder Law and Justice attorney Nicole K. Parshall explains, “There is always a new variation of a phone scam. Scammers are very good at developing new tactics in order to engage with specific types of individuals.”

The most recent company to keep an eye out for is Utility Savings Expert, which claims to cut your elderly parents’ utility, phone, cable, as well as other regular bills in two. They are prompted just to share account information from the bill they’d prefer to reduce. The company then actually takes care of the bill in full, with the arrangement that your parents will reimburse half of the cost by wire transfer only – no checks or bank cards accepted.

Once the older adult’s funds have already been received, the business reverses the charge to the phone or utility company, making the senior liable yet again for the full amount – as well as the additional 50% they’ve paid to the scammers.

Seniors are typical targets of scammers, for a variety of reasons: likely vulnerability, accumulated wealth over a very long time, and a sense of courtesy and good manners that could limit their willingness to appear rude to a caller, just to name a couple. Additionally, recent research from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research revealed a decline of up to one percent each year after age 60 in decision-making abilities, further contributing to the risk of falling for phone scams and fraud.

Just how can you protect your older family members from falling prey to very sophisticated, and frequently believable scams such as these? The Federal Trade Commission advises people to never take part in business with an unfamiliar entity. Another warning sign arises when an organization requests a wire transfer as payment. Screening phone calls and just answering those from known and trusted sources – and hanging up immediately on anybody who calls asking for personal or financial information – is also advised.

Unfortunately, many older adults fall victim to fraud mainly because they’re lonely and relish the chance to interact with someone on the phone. At Home Independent Living can ease senior loneliness and reduce the possibility of a senior scam with the help of our professional in-home companionship and caregiving assistance. Call us at (315) 579-HOME (4663) or contact us online to learn more about how we can keep your senior family members safe and secure with the eldercare Syracuse, NY families can trust.