According to AARP seniors are vulnerable to the many scams that unfortunately exist in today’s society. Those with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other forms of memory loss and dementia are particularly at risk because scammers look for those who may have confusion and/or suffer from depression and isolation and may be more apt to trust strangers than younger people. In fact, according to a study by the insurance company MetLIfe, seniors are victims of nearly 2.6 billion dollars in loss every year as a result of financial scams and abuse. Caregivers have reported their loved ones falling victim to fraudulent organizations posing as charities and/or fake contests, giveaways and more.
Other examples of common scams include:
Unsolicited home maintenance companies that may claim to offer FREE services such as energy saving home improvements, or fake representatives of utility companies claiming they need to stop by the home to turn off utilities-gaining access to rob the home.
Junk mail or phone calls claiming to offer a prescription drug plan or cheap Medicare supplemental insurance plan.
Fake sweepstakes winning asking that seniors pay taxes or other fees upfront-one such well known scam is the “Jamaican Lottery Scam.”
Credit card offers and bank fraud- claiming seniors’ cards have been flagged. These scams work to try to collect protected information such as bank account and/or credit card numbers.
Medicare equipment scams offer fake “deals” on wheel chairs, and other types of durable medical equipment in an attempt to collect a senior’s Medicare number in order to fraudulently bill Medicare.
Another scam involves telemarketers calling to inform seniors that they need a replacement card and asking for verification of the current number. Medicare will NEVER call recipients and ask for their Medicare ID number, just like a bank does not ever call its customers to ask what their checking account number is.
Tips for Caregivers and seniors to prevent scams:
Never open the door to strangers, have a strict no soliciting policy at your home, put a sign out for elderly folks that may be too trusting and remind loved ones never to open the door to strangers.
Screen all calls via a home answering service or machine using a male voice on the voice mail message to avoid letting any potential perpetrators know that a senior female lives alone
Let your loved one know they should never give out any vital information such as bank account
information, social security number or Medicare ID number.
Never make donations to any charity you are unfamiliar with.
Don’t put mail with checks or any other vital information in the mail box-identity theft is commonly committed via mail theft.
Register your loved one’s phone number with a “Do Not Call” registry by contacting (www.donotcall.gov) to avoid unsolicited telemarketers
Tips to prevent scammers online
If your loved one with AD is unable to make sound decisions with money, be sure to take the steps to get Power of Attorney in order to manage his/her finances and keep ATM cards, checkbooks and credit cards out of his/her possession.
Avoid Online Scams
Only purchase from online companies you are familiar with
Never respond to any email asking for personal information-no matter how formal the email looks. Call the bank or institution and check out the validity of the email. Your bank will NEVER call you and ask for your password or bank account information.
Keep your virus control software up to date.
If your loved one is the victim of any type of scam, contact your local Adult Protective Services agency to get help and advice-particularly if you suspect any outside caregivers of theft or scams.
Every state has different laws regarding obtaining Power of Attorney, so be sure to seek legal counsel to protect yourself.
Learn more about Alzheimer’s caregiver topics by CLICKING HERE to join our 25 lesson course on Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment.