Seniors are often more concerned about security and protection at home than when they were younger, particularly if they live alone. That wariness is wise because one in four fraud complaints are from people 60 and older, the highest of any age group, according to the Federal Trade Commission. True Link, a financial services firm that protects retirees from fraud, says seniors are cheated out of approximately $36 billion per year.
Most seniors are savvy consumers who know that scam artists think of them as easy targets. But even cautious retirees can become victims if they let down their guard. That’s why we at Country Meadows Retirement Communities are passing on the following tips to help older persons reduce their chances of being swindled or scammed.
Financial protection (tips from the National Council on Aging)
- Shred all discarded receipts and documents that list your credit card number.
- Visit donotcall.gov to stop telemarketers from contacting you.
- Use direct deposit to prevent benefit checks from being stolen from your mailbox.
- Don’t give credit card, banking, social security and Medicare information in email or over the phone (unless you placed the call).
- When receiving email, don’t click on links from unknown senders.
- Don’t feel pressured into making purchases, signing contracts or committing funds.
- Beware of emails claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. Read on:
At this time of year, tax-related scams begin to increase, so beware of persons claiming to be with the IRS. The IRS says that it doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media, nor does it ask for personal or financial information by phone. The IRS also doesn’t threaten taxpayers with lawsuits or imprisonment. Learn more from the IRS about tax-themed scams.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) lists common subjects of scams, including Medicare/health insurance, prescription drugs, funerals/cemeteries, anti-aging products, investments, home ownership/reverse mortgages and sweepstakes/lotteries. Deceptions related to home repair and computer tech support also target seniors, as well as the “grandparent scam,” where someone claiming to be a grandchild calls in need of money immediately for an emergency such as bail money. Scams can take place through personal contact, the phone, the Internet and email.
Elderly persons exhibiting signs of dementia are particularly at risk of being scammed. With declining judgment, they could be tricked into giving away large sums of money. Seniors engaging in this type of behavior might be candidates for memory care support.
Connections Memory Support Services
At Country Meadows Retirement Communities, our Connections Memory Support Services has cared for more than 10,000 people with memory loss over the past 20 years. Our Connections program develops individualized support plans; uses Validation to respond to 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 senior living communities.
We invite you to contact us for information on our senior communities or to schedule a tour to see firsthand 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: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts (202) 326-2222
The Federal Bureau of Investigation: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud Hotline at 1-800-347-3735
Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker: https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us/
AARP Fraud Watch: http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network/?intcmp=AE-SEARCH-AARPSUGG-fraud-watch-network Helpline: 877-908-3360
Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office: https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/Quick_Links/Senior_Issues/ Elder Abuse Hotline: 1-866-623-2137
Maryland Attorney General’s Office: http://www.oag.state.md.us/seniors.htm
“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: www.donotcall.gov 1-888-382-1222
Pennsylvania Do Not Call List: https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/Consumers/Do_Not_Call_List/Do_Not_Call_Enrollment 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.) 1-877-322-8228