Senior Scams – How to Ensure Your Relative Doesn’t Get Tricked

Avoid Senior Scams

There are a wide range of businesses and people who target the elderly. Some are criminals seeking to trick seniors out of banking numbers or identity information. Others are sales people offering legitimate products and services, but who are insensitive as to whether or not their products are appropriate or helpful to the person they are calling. These are people who are under pressure to just make a sale however they can. But it is important for you to be aware of senior scams to make sure your loved one is not deceived.

Why Are Seniors More At Risk for Fraud Than Young Adults?

Seniors tend to need help with many things they can no longer easily do for themselves. Most wish to remain independent and not to be a burden to family members. Because of this, seniors are prone to believe sales pitches for products and services that initially sound helpful, or even essential.

Many elders have some cognitive difficulties and they can be easily confused as a caller, working off of a script, continues to talk. Sometimes this confusion can be compounded by a difficulty in hearing.

There are many reasons senior scams work. Some people may not hang up on telemarketers or scammers because of boredom and loneliness (anyone who calls is someone to talk to). Seniors are typically polite, cutting someone off by saying “no,” or hanging up feels rude. Or, they are unsure of what the caller wants and are afraid to hang up on something which might seem to be important. The longer the telemarketer can keep your loved one on the line, the more chances the caller has of getting them to agree to their pitch.

The sad truth is that many seniors simply do not feel useful and just want to be helpful whenever possible. This makes it easy for them to get taken in by a con artist’s senior scam story.

How to Prevent Senior Scams

Knowledge about different types of scams is certainly valuable, but it’s easy to get confused when someone is talking. Especially someone who makes their pitch sound great while pressuring to take action. A senior can too easily forget all sensible precautions when they need them the most.

One way to make sure a call is not a scam or a phishing attempt is to simply have your relative say “You need to call back when my daughter (or son) is here.” Those words will discourage most fraudulent calls. And always remember, a truly honest offer never demands instant payment or credit card information!

A Practical Step to Help Avoid Confusion

As a visual reminder not to agree to anything right away, place large signs or put stickers on every phone in the house and write in large letters:


Be sure to put a note pad and pen by every phone. You may also want to put the same sticker by the edge of the front door. A large NO SOLICITING sign on the outermost front door, however, will keep most door to door salespeople away.

One of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce unwanted phone calls is to register your relative on your state attorney general’s Do Not Call List. Here is the state of Illinois website you can use to enter your information.
But do know that registering on a Do Not Call List will only keep respectable and law abiding telemarketers from phoning. The registry means absolutely nothing to a fraudulent caller pitching a senior scam.

If None of These Measures Work, You May Need Personal Care Services.

If you can’t be with your loved one all of the time and they forget to take notes or refuse to talk to you before agreeing to things over the phone, this could be a very good additional reason to employ a personal care services professional to stay with them when you can’t be there. A personal caregiver can help prevent senior scams by screening or listening in on your loved one’s calls. They can help remind your relative not to give personal information to unknown callers and they can help immediately sort out the facts before it’s too late. And while present, a personal caregiver can also help with all sorts of other day to day needs, like household chores, monitoring medication times, pet care, and just by being a good social companion.
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