Unfortunately, seniors may be vulnerable to money scams. Being armed with information is your first line of defense…
Written by Bill Gelfeld, President Comfort Home Care. In-home health care specialists in Montgomery County Maryland.
Between the changes in technology that they are unfamiliar with and the potential to be confused by the con artist, seniors are often a ‘go to’ segment of the population for those with less than honorable intentions.
Listed below are a few of the current scams aimed at taking advantage of seniors. Please share these with your loved ones. If they are aware of the scam they are better able to recognize it and avoid it.
The scammer calls the victim and says they are eligible for a free gift. You accept. Then you start receiving a service (can be a magazine, a phone service, many things) and being charged monthly.
The negative in negative option is the assumption by the “seller” that you are buying the item or service. It is the “buyers” responsibility to opt out if they want to. The service is usually either in tiny print if the gift offer is in writing, or not mentioned at all if it is done on the phone. By agreeing to the gift you have given consent to the service as well.
A frequent version of this involves a telephone call that wants to verify your phone number for a free telephone listing. If you say “yes” then you have just made the purchase. Some of these scammers have your credit card information from a previous transaction that you wanted to make. Other times it can be ‘slammed’ onto your telephone bill.
Be careful of accepting any free gifts – read the fine print. And don’t give out any information over the telephone. If you think it may be a real company that you do business with hang up and call back to a number that you can verify belongs to the company.
The Grandparent Scam
This scam typically starts out when the phone is answered saying “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” “Tommy?” Unfortunately, you just gave the scammer the info they need to go to work.
The scammer then tells Grandma about some financial trouble they are in: car crash, rent is due, or they are traveling and got mugged, and need money wired to them. They will add, but please don’t tell Mom, she would be so mad at me. They are effectively keeping the adult children out of the loop with this tactic.
Sounds too simple to work? Unfortunately the scammers are very good at what they do, and it works too often. If you get a call like this never give out a grandchild’s name. If they ask if you know who it is say no who? And if they say your grandson, say “which one?” The scammer will typically hang up and move on to the next target.
The Fake Virus or Robot Virus
This scam uses a pop-up window warning the user of a virus on their computer. This scam has also been known to come as an email. Both the pop-up and the email claim to be from the Internet service provider and are typically accompanied by a request to click on a link to correct the problem. Clicking on any unknown links can be a permission to the scammer to access your computer and all your private data. If you think the email might be legitimate call your Internet service provider and ask if they have sent an email to you. Otherwise do not click on links that you aren’t certain of.
For additional information on scams that affect seniors you can go to the FBI’s website (www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors/), or Elder Care Link (www.eldercarelink.com/Legal-and-Financial/The-Top-5-Scams-Aimed-at-Seniors.htm). There are a number of additional resources such as your local state’s attorney that can help. Unfortunately these opportunistic scammers will continue to invent new ways to deceive seniors, so it pays to stay current.
Comfort Home Care is based in Rockville Maryland and provides in-home care, senior care and elder care to residents in Montgomery County Maryland.