You may see your elderly loved ones as adoring and trusting family members, but scammers frequently see seniors as low-risk and lucrative targets for elder fraud. Each year, about five million American seniors fall victim to some form of fraud, with telemarketing scams being one of the most common deceptions.
If you have elderly loved ones in your care, you need to take precautions ahead of time to prevent them from falling victim to telemarketing scams. This will save you a lot of trouble down the road.
Why are Seniors Vulnerable to Telemarketing Scams?
Elderly Americans are usually targeted because they frequently have large financial “nest eggs.” They’re also chosen as targets because they’re unknowingly vulnerable to telemarketing scams. Some vulnerabilities include:
- Higher rates of cognitive decline
A large number of older adults experience some form of cognitive decline, which can leave them more susceptible to telemarketing scams. Becoming easily confused or having difficulty remembering conversations makes older adults prime targets, especially in situations where scammers are applying constant pressure on them to make a decision.
- Emotional vulnerability
Many seniors were raised to be polite and trusting. Telemarketing scammers exploit this type of personality because many seniors have difficulty saying “no” and hanging up the phone. In addition, scammers will often manipulate a loved one’s desire to improve their physical or mental health by offering them bogus products or services for a fee.
- Lower likeliness to recognize or report fraud
Some seniors may not realize they have been scammed for weeks, months or ever after the fraud occurred. Other times, your elderly loved ones may be ashamed to admit they were duped or may not know who to contact to report the crime. And when older adults report scams, they may make poor witnesses if they have trouble recalling all the details.
What are the Most Common Types of Telemarketing Scams?
Becoming familiar with common types of telemarketing scams is one way to prevent your loved ones from falling victim to elder fraud. Although there are many other types of telemarking scams, the most common include:
- Medical Identity Theft
Medical identity theft involves a scammer claiming to be a Medicare representative. The scammer calls an elderly victim to obtain personal information, such as Social Security Number or Medical ID Number. After they have this information, they can use it for many things, including gaining access to the victim’s financial resources.
- The Grandparent Con
The “Grandparent Con” is a simple scam that exploits a seniors’ love for their grandchildren. In the Grandparent Con, a scammer calls an elderly person and greets them by saying something like, “Hi Grandpa! Can you guess who’s calling?” After the victim guesses, the scammer asks for money for a financial hardship and tells the grandparent not to tell anybody about the monetary “gift.”
- The Fraudulent Accident
This scam attempts to convince a victim that a family member has been involved in an accident or has suddenly fallen ill and needs money immediately to pay hospital fees.
- Charity Schemes
Charity schemes take advantage of the elderly person’s good intentions. In this elder fraud scheme, the scammer pretends to be collecting donations for charity, usually occurring after natural disasters.
- The Pigeon Drop
This scam involves offering the senior a large sum of money if they pay a smaller sum of money first. The scammer claims to need this smaller sum to secure the promised amount, which may be an inheritance they have come into or a prize they claim the victim has won.
How Can I Help My Loved Ones Avoid Falling for Telemarketing Scams?
The simplest and most effective way to help your loved one avoid a senior scams is by having someone, such as an in-home caregiver, with them at home. An in-home caregiver can:
- Watch out for signs that your loved one is receiving fraudulent calls
- Alert family members of potential problems
- Offer a second opinion if your loved one has been targeted and doesn’t know what to do.
If possible, have a conversation with your older loved ones about recognizing and avoiding senior fraud. Tell them to take their time when making phone purchases and not to pay fees associated with free prizes. Remind them to always confirm the person they are speaking to is legitimate, and to immediately report it if they think they have fallen victim to a scheme.
Make sure to register your loved ones under the Do Not Call List and consider keeping their personal information locked up so that it isn’t easily accessed.
Although there are many types of telemarketing scams that target seniors, working with your loved one’s home-care team can help prevent your elderly loved one from falling victim to elder fraud.
For information on how Visiting Angels’ home care services can help your senior loved one avoid elder fraud and provide needed companionship, contact your nearest home care office today.