Telephone scams geared toward older adults are nothing new, with an astonishing $36 billion lost each year to financial abuse. And the current senior phone scam circulating is difficult for many seniors to identify until it is 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 be on the lookout for is Utility Savings Expert, which offers to cut seniors’ utility, phone, cable, along with other regular bills by 50 percent. Seniors are invited just to share account information from the bill they’d like to reduce. The organization then actually takes care of the balance in full, with the deal that the older adult will reimburse 50% of the bill by wire transfer only – no checks or bank cards accepted.
Once the senior’s funds have already been received, the organization reverses the charge to the phone or utility company, leaving the senior liable once again for the full amount – in addition to the additional 50% they’ve paid to the scammers.
Older adults are common targets of scam phone calls, for many different reasons: potential vulnerability, accumulated wealth over a very long time, and a feeling of courtesy and manners which might limit their capability to hang up quickly on a caller, merely to name a few. Additionally, recent research from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research revealed a decline of up to 1 percent per year after age 60 in decision-making skills, further adding to the possibility of falling for phone scams and fraud.
So how are you able to protect your older loved ones from falling victim to highly sophisticated, and quite often believable scams such as these? The Federal Trade Commission urges individuals to never take part in business with an unknown enterprise. Another red flag develops when an organization asks for a wire transfer as payment. Screening calls and just answering those from known and trustworthy sources – and hanging up immediately on anybody who calls asking for personal or financial information – is also encouraged.
Sadly, many senior citizens fall victim to fraud simply because they’re lonely and relish the chance to talk with someone on the telephone. JFS Care can ease senior loneliness and reduce the possibility of a senior scam with our professional in-home care companionship and caregiving assistance. Give us a call for more information on senior care in Santa Monica and how we can keep your senior family members safe and secure.