May 20, 2018

Seniors are frequently the target of telephone scams.

Seniors are frequently the target of telephone scams.

Telephone scams intended for older adults aren’t anything new, with an astounding $36 billion lost every year to financial abuse. And the most recent senior con circulating is difficult for many seniors to identify 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 claims to cut seniors’ utility, phone, cable, and other monthly bills by 50 percent. Seniors are asked just to share account information from the bill they would want to reduce. The company then actually pays off the balance in full, with the arrangement that the older adult will reimburse 50% of the bill by wire transfer only – no checks or credit cards accepted.

Once the senior’s funds have already been received, the business reverses the charge to the phone or utility company, leaving the senior liable once again for the full bill – and the additional 50 percent they have paid to the scammers.

Older adults are typical targets of con artists and scam calls, for a number of reasons: likely vulnerability, accumulated wealth over a lifetime, and a sense of politeness and manners which may limit their ability to know when to hang up on a caller, just 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 skills, further contributing to the possibility of falling for scam calls and fraud.

So just how are you able to protect your older family members from falling victim to extremely sophisticated, and often believable scams such as these? The Federal Trade Commission urges individuals to never engage in business with an unknown company. Another warning sign occurs when a company asks for a wire transfer as payment. Screening telephone calls and just answering those from known and trustworthy sources – and hanging up immediately on anyone who calls requesting personal or financial information – is also encouraged.

The fact is, many older adults fall victim to scams mainly because they’re lonely and relish the chance to interact with someone on the phone. Continuum’s care in St. Louis can alleviate senior loneliness and minimize the possibility of a senior scam with the help of our professional in-home care companionship and caregiving assistance. Call us for more information on home care in St. Louis and St. Charles counties and how we can keep your senior family members safe and sound.