Last week, I was asked to interview an older gentleman who I didn’t know for a story I was writing. I called the gentleman and we had a pleasant but brief introductory conversation. We agreed that I would do the interview the following afternoon in person. At the end of the call, I could hear the gentleman talking to a woman who he identified as his daughter who had entered the house.
Fast forward to the next morning when my phone rings. I answered it and the caller identified herself as the gentleman’s daughter. “What do you want with my father?” she asked nicely but firmly. I explained what I was doing, trying to be clear that I wasn’t someone who was out to try to scam her father, who (it turns out) has mild cognitive impairment. I told the daughter that I could totally understand her caution since I had a mother who struggled with Alzheimer’s and now have my elderly father living with me.
I really applaud this woman’s decision to call me to determine my intentions.
Top 10 scams aimed at seniors
And I want to make sure that all caregivers understand the elderly scams that are out there waiting to ensnare a trusting loved one. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) identified the top 10 scams as follows:
- Health care/Medicare/Health insurance fraud
- Counterfeit prescription drugs
- Funeral and cemetery scams
- Fraudulent anti-aging products
- Internet fraud
- Investment schemes
- Homeowner/reverse mortgage schemes
- Sweepstakes and lottery scams
- The grandparent scam
The “grandparent scam” involves criminals calling an older person and identifying themselves as a relative. According to the NCOA, the unsuspecting grandparent may guess to identify which relative is calling. Once this fake identity has been established, the scammer will typically ask the elder for money to resolve a financial issue (such as a rent or car payment). In most cases, they will ask for the money to be sent by MoneyGram or Western Union because identification isn’t always required to collect the money.
Even scarier, the scammer will ask the grandparent not to tell others of the request because they don’t want to be embarrassed. In turn, the criminal can then call the elder again and again, asking for money.
As caregivers to elders, we have to walk the difficult line of trying to allow the elder to make independent decisions for as long as possible while still providing some level of protection for them. By being aware of these scams, you have a better chance of getting the upper hand to help the elder avoid being scammed.Posted in Caregiving, Fraud | 4 Comments »
Tags: Caregiving, elder fraud