As individuals start to receive Covid-19 stimulus checks and other forms of support during these uncertain times, we feel it’s important to revisit fraud security precautions for seniors. The truth is, scammers often disproportionately target elderly people.
Why Are Seniors More at Risk?
According to the Fraud Against Seniors web resource provided by the FBI, seniors are more likely to be targeted because:
- They are likely to have a “nest egg”
- They own their own home
- They have excellent credit
- People raised between the 1930s and 1950s were raised to be polite and trusting and con artists work to exploit these traits
- Older Americans are less likely to report fraud because they don’t know how or are too ashamed, or in some cases, may not be aware they’ve been defrauded.
- Seniors are also shown to be more interested in and susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, and anti-cancer properties, which are easy covers for scams.
Telemarketing Scams Target Seniors
In fact, the FBI advises that if you are age 60 or older—and especially if you are an older woman living alone—you may be a special target of people who sell bogus products and services by telephone. Telemarketing scams often involve offers of free prizes, low-cost vitamins and health care products, and inexpensive vacations. (Fraud Against Seniors)
Screening for Potential Scams
Every year, the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging produces an annual Fraud Book that features the top 10 scams reported to their hotline to keep seniors informed. You can view the latest Fraud Book here: Fighting Fraud: Senate Aging Committee Identifies Top 10 Scams Targeting Our Nation’s Seniors.
Outside of keeping up on the latest fraud reports, the committee offers several pointers to detect a scam. According to the Senate Aging Committee, here are 6 ways you or an aging loved one can avoid scams:
1. Con artists will try and force you to make decisions fast and may even threaten you. If you experience any of this type of behavior, disengage with the conversation immediately.
2. Con artists disguise their real numbers, using fake caller IDs
3. Con artists sometimes pretend to be the government (e.g. the IRS)
4. Con artists try to get you to provide them with personal information like your social security number or account numbers. If you are asked to provide this information over the phone or in person, disengage from the conversation and seek advice from a trusted friend or family member before taking further action.
5. Before giving out your credit card number or money, please ask a friend or family member about it first.
6. Beware of free travel offers!
What to Do If You Suspect Fraud
If you receive a suspicious call, hang up and please call the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470 or visit https://www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline
For more information on how to protect seniors from scams, please read our blog article: 7 Ways Seniors Can Avoid Scams.
Find an In-Home Care Professional to Help
You can work with your in-home care giving to coordinate an art therapy session with an art therapist in your area. Art therapists work with individuals, couples, and families in many environments including hospitals, veteran’s clinics, private practices, and senior communities. If you are interested in pursuing art therapy treatment for yourself or a loved one, or are in need of other in-home care services, reach out to your local AmeriCare to find a trusted professional ready and willing to help you take the next steps!