September 27th, 2010 at 2:20 pm
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Elders May Not Report Fraud and Scams to Caregivers

by Isabel Fawcett, SPHR

According to the FBI, elderly individuals are less likely to report fraud or scams for various reasons. Caregivers need to be vigilant of fraud schemes and criminal activities – locally and across the U.S. – especially scams which target elderly individuals.

When I worked full-time, I printed elder fraud alerts for Mom. The printouts, readings, and conversations were my way of being protective of Mom’s safety while I was away from home. Mom and her generational cohorts sometimes are a little too trusting of good faith in other individuals. The world has changed since the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s.

In addition to using national and state Do Not Call lists, I have changed my telephone number. Some telemarketers became too scary. I was never able to convince my mother that those “smiling” and “friendly” voices talking to her on the phone were anything but. Over the years, Mom disclosed my first name, our degree of bloodline relationship; times I would return home, and more. I only know the information Mom told me she had disclosed to strangers who’d called while I was at work. I shudder to think of what all she may not have shared with me.

One caller professed to be affiliated with local law enforcement – and a charitable cause. Thanks to caller i.d., I easily cross-referenced incoming calls and other call log information daily. I reported certain telephone numbers to the appropriate state or national organizations.

Whether you are a long-distance caregiver, or local, there are simple things you can do to better protect your aging family member.

  • Ensure that your elder’s telephone is registered with the National Do Not Call list.
  • After your elder’s number has been in the National Registry for at least 31 days, you may file a complaint if: the incoming call used a recorded message instead of a live caller, and/or if the call was unwanted. If the state where your elder resides has a statewide do not call registry, list the telephone number(s) in the state registry as well as the national database.
  • Promptly report potential scams, fraud, and/or suspicious activity to local and/or state authorities. Start with the Consumer Protection Division at the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in the state in which your elder resides. Many states’ OAG accept online consumer complaints.
  • Be the initial live or telephone point of contact with home maintenance and repair vendors before the vendor starts any work. Let your elders know that you will gladly assist in reviewing the fine print.

Whatever you do, remain visible to all involved!

Posted in Caregiving, Caring At Home, Scams | 2 Comments »
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2 Comments to “Elders May Not Report Fraud and Scams to Caregivers”

  1. ECL staff

    Thank you for writing. In addition to the tips in that blog post, we have another article on the topic of scams targeting seniors: Best wishes from the ECL staff.

  2. Robin

    Do you have any suggestions on how to safeguard my mother against the ever-increasing scams? Even though my mother is very independent at 75, she was defrauded out of a significant chunk of change from an investment scheme. She hid the crime for a while, for fear of being seen as incompetent. I want to help protect her from falling prey to these kinds of schemes, but also allowing her to maintain her autonomy. Besides reviewing her finances every few months, what other “checks and balance” system can she put in place?
    Thank you,

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