Telephone cons intended for seniors are nothing new, with an astonishing $36 billion lost every year to financial abuse. And the current senior fraud scheme circulating is difficult for most older adults to identify 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 latest company to look out for is Utility Savings Expert, which guarantees to cut seniors’ utility, phone, cable, as well as other monthly bills by 50 percent. Seniors are invited just to share account information from the bill they would like to reduce. The organization then actually takes care of the bill in full, with the arrangement that the senior will reimburse half of the cost by wire transfer only – no checks or bank cards accepted.
After the senior’s funds have been received, the organization reverses the charge to the phone or utility company, leaving the senior liable once again for the full amount – in addition to the additional 50% they have paid to the scammers.
The elderly are regular targets of con artists, for many different reasons: expected vulnerability, accrued wealth over a very long time, and a feeling of courtesy and manners which could limit their capability to hang up quickly on a caller. Additionally, recent research from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research revealed a decline of as much as one percent each year after age 60 in decision-making skills, further contributing to the risk of falling for phone scams and fraud.
So just how could you protect your older family members from falling prey to extremely sophisticated, and frequently believable scams such as these? The Federal Trade Commission advises individuals to never engage in a transaction with an unfamiliar business. Another red flag appears when a business asks for a wire transfer as payment. Screening calls and just answering those from known and trusted sources – and hanging up immediately on anyone who calls asking for personal or financial information – is also recommended.
The fact is, many older adults fall victim to fraud simply because they’re lonely and enjoy the chance to talk with someone on the phone. Generations at Home can alleviate senior loneliness and minimize the chance of a senior scam with our professional in-home care companionship and caregiving assistance. Give us a call to learn more about how exactly we can keep your senior loved ones safe and sound.