Understanding Scams that Seniors Face

by Kathleen on March 11, 2014

Recently, I attended a webinar sponsored by Home Instead, focused on the many different scams and abuse that Seniors are often subject to.

I’d like to summarize some of the poignant points made in that webinar.

There are many reasons why Seniors are targets of various scams and schemes including:

  • Availibility
  • Isolation
  • Loneliness
  • Sickness
  • Prosperity
  • Less likely to report

Most abuse that occurs falls into 3 types of fraud/abuse:

  1. Crimes of Occasion-where an occasion presents itself for a person to steal from a Senior, such as identity theft or fraudulent internet sales.
  2. Crimes of Desperation-where a friend or family member might have a drug or alcohol problem and is desperate for money.
  3. Crimes of Predation-where a ‘handyman’ gains a victim’s trust and then offers to do repairs but never delivers or does shoddy work.

The annual cost of dollars lost by victims in 2010 was 2.9 Billion!

And the impact of such abuse is the victims lose trust, become fearful and suspicious and are less willing to act generously.

Most perpetrators are males between the ages of 30 – 59 and 5% are strangers (who target those with mobility issues or who live alone) while 34% are family, friends or neighbors of the Senior.

Most victims are women living alone between 80-89 years of age and usually require some kind of home maintenance help.

Signs to be on the lookout for include:

  • Unpaid bills, eviction or utility notices
  • Unusual bank activity
  • Missing bank statements
  • New legal or financial ‘arrangements’
  • Missing property
  • Suspicious signatures on checks

The National Council on Aging offers these fraud prevention tips:

  • Be aware of risks
  • Stay connected with family & friends (don’t isolate)
  • Ask for offers in writing
  • Shred documents with Social Security numbers, bank accounts
  • Get on the Do Not Call list (donotcall.gov)
  • Direct deposit your checks such as social security, pensions, etc.
  • Never give out personal info over the phone
  • Be wary of unsolicited offers

If you believe a Senior you know is a victim, call the local police, file complaints with the FBI, close accounts being tampered with and be sure the Senior has a Power of Attorney set up.

There are many resources to help—Go to Caregiverstress.com and upload the ‘Protect Seniors from Fraud’ kit.

Visit the National Council on Aging (NCOA.org), the National Committee for Prevention of Elder Abuse and the FBI.

Kathleen Cleary is a Caregiver Coach and Consultant helping Professional Women find the answers they need to continue living their best life while caring for aging parents. As a Certified Senior Advisor, she offers Seniors and their adult children customized plans of care as well as resources and information to help them navigate the challenges of aging.

Skype: kathleen.cleary12



For a free 20 minute consultation: click here

If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed … or confused and afraid of the journey ahead, I can help! Let’s chat.

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