Quality Home Health Care

Scams Targeting the Elderly and How to Avoid Being Scammed

Seniors make up a very vulnerable demographic. That’s because most aging adults are inherently trusting. Senior having fallen for a scamThey are also less able to research the different things that people tell them. As a result, many seniors are being conned by scheming, unethical parties who want access to their money, their personal information or their property deeds. Following are three scams that seniors and their loved ones need to beware of along with tips for keeping your family member safe.

A Loved One In Need Scam

Some people have taken to calling elderly adults on their home phones while posing as grandchildren or other family members who are in desperate need of help. These individuals cite personal emergencies that require them to have large sums of money wired or sent right away. Although most aging adults subsist entirely on fixed and limited incomes, they are often more than happy to help. They certainly don’t want to see their relatives go without. This is one of the most hurtful scams out there given that it preys on a senior’s desire to assist family members, feel valued and valuable and maintain some role as a provider, rather than always being in need of assistance themselves. Once any money has been sent, however, it cannot be retrieved and sadly, seniors often find that they weren’t sending cash to their own family members at all.

To help your aging relative avoid scams like these, ask him or her to talk with you before giving money away. This way, you can discuss the pros and cons of this decision before any funds are lost. Even if a phone call from a down-and-out loved one turns out to be legit, seniors should be able to spend their own limited incomes all by themselves.

Online Pharmacies Scam

Another way in which seniors are being conned is by illegitimate, online “companies” that are posing as discount pharmacies. Prescription costs can be overwhelming for the elderly and thus, being able to buy essential medications at a mere fraction of their normal cost always sounds ideal. With these scams, no actual business exists. Once seniors share their personal and financial information during the process of completing a purchase, these things can be used to set up credit accounts, make charges and steal money in other ways. Seniors should always take great care when opting to purchase their prescriptions online. Although there are certainly legitimate and reputable pharmacies online, it is always important to screen web-based companies carefully. More often than not, if an online offer for discount drugs sounds too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.

Reverse Mortgages Scam

Reverse mortgages really do exist. This, however, doesn’t mean that these offers are in the best interests of elderly consumers. More importantly, it certainly doesn’t mean that everyone calling your aging loved one to offer these financial products is part of a licensed and legitimate organization. These scams are often aimed at collecting a senior’s personal and financial information, but they can also go quite a bit further by getting seniors to enter into legally binding arrangements involving their property deeds that can compromise their homeowner status.

Talk to your loved one about the importance of seeking qualified legal advice before entering into any real property transactions. Seniors are often eager to find ways to supplement their meager incomes. This, however, is rarely a move that is in their best interests. It is additionally vital to note that unethical parties can be forceful in their efforts to promote their offers and may even make seniors feel as though they are legally obligated to accept them. Always keep the lines of communication open. If your senior family member feels comfortable talking to you about phone conversations and financial offers that appear to be cause for concern, you’ll have the guaranteed opportunity to nip these scams in the bud before any money, assets or personal security is lost.

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Steps for Seniors to Prevent Identity Theft

Identity Theft Prevention for Seniors

There are thousands of scams targeting the elderly. They can be found on the internet, in the mail, or anywhere seniors are asked to provide personal information. Elderly woman worried about identity theftWhile identity theft is a problem for all citizens, the elderly are particularly at risk, due to increased contact with health care providers and services offered to the aging.

Seniors are often targeted for identity theft in places where they frequently visit, such as medical offices, grocery stores, pharmacies, and other service providers. Some strategies to prevent or reduce access to personal information include limiting information on a need-to-know basis. For example, an automotive shop doesn’t need access to a person’s social security number, to provide repair services. If a credit or debit account is used to pay, the service provider should never need the social security number for payment processing.

Medical offices do not overtly take private information from elderly patients. But, office practices can put elderly patients at risk for fraud and identity theft. Medical records, including electronic records, should not be easily accessible to those other than office staff who manage records or patient care. Offices should not ask patients to sign in using both the first and last name. Reception desk workers should never shout or otherwise share any patient information that others in the waiting area can hear.

Patients should ask medical offices about their internet security protocols. Sometimes hackers with wireless devices can access electronic records systems. Those who may be particularly vulnerable are seniors and patients who speak their names and information at a reception desk. Seniors should request that office workers conduct conversations in private, if they have questions about personal information. Usually, when an office enters personal information for a new patient, it is never needed again. Office staff can ask elderly patients for other types of information, such as street name, last four digits of a phone number, or assign a personal pin, to keep information safeguarded.

Other scams that target seniors are offers for free products, free services, and financial services. Seniors can avoid personal information falling into the wrong hands, by asking any financial services representatives to visit in person or by offering to visit their offices. If a sales person is hesitant to meet in person, this is a good indication that the individual is not legitimate and could gain access to personal or bank account information, from the wrong reasons. Scams can come in the mail as easily as they can come in email.

There are steps seniors can take, to prevent incidents of identity theft or at least catch them right away. Avoiding the use of ATMs, particularly those not associated with the individual’s bank, is one way to protect information. Many scammers will slap false fronts onto machines and gain access to bank accounts that way. They may also access social security numbers in the same manner.

Checking bank statements often, for any mistakes or fraudulent charges, is another way to address identity theft or fraud. If errors or unidentifiable charges are addressed right away, banks and financial institutions are usually able to remove them and investigate. Checking credit reports periodically, but not so often as to affect the credit score, can be another way to spot fraudulent accounts or charges.

Elderly people who are active and carry their identification with them can protect themselves further. They can avoid keeping wallets and handbags in areas where others could quickly grab them or look inside. This can occur when an elderly person is consulting with a store sales clerk, for example. If it is not necessary to carry social security cards, they can be kept in a lock box at home. Most states don’t publish social security numbers on driver licenses, to avoid identity theft. Driver licenses are mandatory for anyone who drives. For seniors who no longer drive, a state identification card can be useful.

There are many ways seniors can be targeted by scams and identity thieves. Careful handling of sensitive documents and information, as well as requesting others handle private information carefully, can go a long way in avoiding financial ruin. Elderly people should not answer the door to people they don’t know and shouldn’t exchange emails or engage in phone calls for any service they don’t recognize.

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