More than 10 million Americans each year have their personal identity information stolen, according to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. Retirees are particularly at risk. The Federal Trade Commission says that one in four fraud complaints are from people 60 and older—the highest of any age group.
The economic cost of fraud targeting seniors is staggering. True Link, a financial services firm that protects retirees from fraud, reports that overall funds lost by them exceed $36 billion per year.
Be smart about scams
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) lists a number of frequent subjects of scams, including Medicare/health insurance, prescription drugs, funerals/cemeteries, anti-aging products, investments, home ownership/reverse mortgages, and sweepstakes/lotteries. Additional ruses to extract money from seniors often involve home repair, computer tech support and tax payments.
Today, scams take place by phone, email and the Internet, though personal contact is still common. Distraction is a frequent ploy. For example, someone knocks at the door to talk with the homeowner outside about a property maintenance issue, while an accomplice enters the house and robs it in a matter of minutes.
The NCOA says that financial scams often aren’t reported (mainly because seniors are embarrassed) and can be difficult to prosecute, so they’re a low-risk crime for the offender. However, the results can devastate older persons, who are left feeling foolish and vulnerable, and possibly with a substantial financial loss.
Elderly persons should never conduct business with a cold caller on the phone. Having a script by the phone could be helpful: “I don’t make purchases over the phone,” or “I don’t talk to telemarketers.” If the offer sounds legitimate and of possible interest, they should ask for information to be mailed. Pressure to act immediately could signify a scam.
If you think you or a loved one has been the victim of a scam, report it. Call your local police department, as well as your bank if money has been removed from your account.
Connections Memory Support Services
Elderly persons showing early signs of dementia are particularly at risk of being scammed. Declining judgment skills, which may indicate Alzheimer’s disease, can lead to giving away large sums of money. Seniors exhibiting this behavior may be in need of memory support or dementia care.
At Country Meadows Retirement Communities, we know memory loss can be harmful and debilitating. That’s why we developed our Connections Memory Support Services, which has cared for more than 10,000 people over the past 20 years.
Our Connections program develops individualized support plans; uses Validation to address residents’ frustration, anxiety and loneliness; provides brain fitness activities; and incorporates customized exercises to promote balance, stretching, strength and endurance. Connections is available at all of our retirement communities, which also offers independent living, assisted living and personal care homes.
In addition, to address concerns regarding fraud against seniors, Country Meadows campuses host awareness programs for our residents and family members, as well as local community members. Experts in finance, law and aging counsel seniors and family members on common scams, how to protect themselves from identity theft and who to contact with concerns.
We invite you to contact us for information on our senior living communities and our memory care support program. You may also schedule a tour so that we can acquaint you with our wide array of services. If you’re considering retirement at a senior independent living community, or are looking for an assisted living or a personal care home, visit one or more of our retirement home communities, where you will find residents with full lives in a family-oriented, caring environment. Country Meadows has 10 retirement communities in Pennsylvania as well as a Maryland retirement home.
Learn About and Report Current Scams
The Federal Trade Commission:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation:
Hotline at 1-800-347-3735
Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker:
AARP Fraud Watch
Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office:
Elder Abuse Hotline: 1-866-623-2137
Maryland Attorney General’s Office:
“Consumer Guide for Marylanders”, a 36-page booklet on avoiding scams and fraud. Request a free copy by mail by calling 410-576-6500 or toll-free 1-888-743-0023
Consumer Complaint Hotline 410-528-8662
Do Not Call Registries*
National Do Not Call Registry
Pennsylvania Do Not Call List
1-888-777-3406 (during regular business hours)
*Maryland does not have a do not call registry
Monitor Your Credit (free, authorized by federal law)
Annualcreditreport.com (Make sure this is the web address of the site you are on. Others may pop up during your search. The service should be free.)