Senior scams happen every day because elderly people are often easy targets. For seniors living on their own and suffering mild memory loss, they may be more trusting – too trusting.
What’s worse is it’s difficult to target scammers and the faux companies used because our elderly parents are embarrassed; humiliated. They don’t want to be a burden to you and they don’t want to admit that they’ve been duped. Everyone has a degree of pride, and self-sufficient seniors don’t want to fall under harsh scrutiny from you and the rest of their family. They worry that this is the first step in losing their independence and no senior wants to risk that.
While understandable, it would be easier to prevent scams if seniors came forward… but since that rarely happens, the next best thing we can do is provide some telltale signs senior scams and how to avoid them.
This is one of the most common types of scams. Seniors will get a phone call from “Medicare” asking for their ID number. Your Medicare number is like your Social Security number in that you don’t give it out to just anyone. Unless your doctor asks for your number (in person), it’s a scam. If they keep calling, you tell them to call your doctor and if they’re the real deal, they’ll know who your doctor is and s/he will give your number to them.
Independent Caregiver Scams
If your elderly parents (or you) are searching for a help around the house and find an independent caregiver offering services for a fraction of the typical cost, it’s very likely a scam. Reputable caregivers work for parent companies like Right at Home. If a person simply posts an ad online or offers their services door-to-door, chances are they’re not qualified and interested in taking advantage of your parents.
This is not limited to elders. Everyone has had an experience with a contractor who asks for a higher price because “more supplies” are needed or “more damage” has been done. They sound like the stereotypical sleazy mechanics who, during a routine oil change, tell you your “deflubbigizer” is unchained and it’ll be an extra $80 to repair it. But with contractors, it can be difficult to know who is running a legitimate company and who is a con artist. With this type of scenario the best thing you can do is research to see if anything questionable comes up.
With each of these – and many more – you should always ask questions and get their information. This can be helpful to track them down and put an end to the charade.
Seniors are frequently targets because they tend to need more help and are less likely to report it if they catch on. As a result, you have a low-risk, high-reward demographic. Plus –in this day and age – our elderly parents are less technologically savvy, so research may not be second-nature.
While we all like to believe in the ‘good intentions’ of people, there are ALWAYS going to be those folks who are out to make a buck.