Telephone cons intended for the elderly aren’t anything new, with an astounding $36 billion lost every year to financial abuse. And the latest senior telephone con circulating is difficult for many seniors to recognize until it’s 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 most recent company to watch out for is Utility Savings Expert, which offers to cut seniors’ utility, phone, cable, as well as other regular bills in half. Seniors are requested just to share account information from the bill they’d want to reduce. The business then actually pays off the balance in full, with the arrangement that the older adult will reimburse half of the cost by wire transfer only—no checks or bank cards accepted.
When the older adult’s funds have been received, the organization reverses the charge to the phone or utility company, leaving the senior liable yet again for the full amount—plus the additional 50% they have paid to the scammers.
Older adults are frequent targets of scammers, for many different reasons: potential vulnerability, accrued wealth over a very long time, and a feeling of politeness and good manners which might limit their willingness to appear rude to a caller, merely to name a few. Additionally, recent research from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research revealed a decline of as much as one percent per year after age 60 in decision-making abilities, further contributing to the risk of falling for phone scams and fraud.
So how can you protect your older loved ones from falling prey to extremely sophisticated, and often believable scams such as these? The Federal Trade Commission recommends individuals to never engage in business with an unfamiliar enterprise. Another warning sign develops when an organization requests a wire transfer as payment. Screening calls and only answering those from known and trusted sources—and hanging up immediately on anyone who calls asking for personal or financial information—is also advised.
Regrettably, many senior citizens fall victim to fraud simply because they’re lonely and enjoy the opportunity to talk to someone on the phone. Senior home services experts, North River Home Care, can alleviate senior loneliness and lower the possibility of a senior scam with our professional in-home care companionship and caregiving assistance. Give us a call at (781) 352-0939 for more information on how we are able to keep your senior loved ones secure and safe.