Posted on Dec 09, 2013
Seniors are some of the most susceptible victims of scams. Living alone, having illnesses that often impair mobility, along with poor eyesight, or loss of hearing, make them a ready target. At times, unfortunately, there are other factors that make seniors easily manipulated. The FBI, in a section of their website titled Common Fraud Schemes, identifies a couple of traits that make older Americans vulnerable to scam artists, “People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting.”
Seniors are victims of phone scams because they tend to be more polite than other age groups. Some scammers like to start a conversation with that old hook question, “How are you today?” And will even address the victim by their first name. Others may even play up to the victim’s religion, use terms of endearment, and even ask about their military service.
Some scam artists call to sell products and services most seniors often need, but for which they end up paying excessive fees, and often for products that never show up. In other instances, some telemarketing schemes are carried out to spawn investment or credit card fraud.
I remember the story of a caregiver who had answered the phone during a scam call. The fraudster wanted to speak with the patient to verify a credit card number, expiration date, and security code. The alert caregiver advised the caller the information was not available, period. The frustrated scammer never attempted a second call, or at least not while the caregiver was in the home.
Rule #1 - Never give out social security numbers, credit card information, security codes, or dates of birth to someone who calls out of the blue.
Rule # 2 – Never fax or email copies of your social security card, passport or driver’s license.
Rule # 3 – If the caller wants to come over and show a product, let them know you will be more comfortable meeting them at their place of business or in a public place. Never go alone. In fact, always take a friend, family, and witness.
Rule # 4 – Not being able to wait and being too pushy is always a big red flag. Legitimate businesses accommodate the customer.
Rule # 5 – Document calls on a readily available note pad. Note the date, time, who, what the call was about, and what was promised.
Rule # 6 – Learn how to say NO! and hang up. This is the best rule of all!
Share your concerns about the call. Don’t ever be embarrass to tell someone. Also, call your local law- enforcement agency and find out about any local scams that you need to watch out for in your neighborhood.
By Ana P. Delane
Senior Helpers of Orlando Team Member