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Blog Feature

By: Elizabeth Bemis on August 5th, 2013

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Protecting Seniors from Fraud: Fraud Awareness Week 2013

senior fraud awareness | fraud awareness week | united methodist homes | assisted living | assisted living ct | assisted living tn | Aging & Caregiving

How Seniors can Avoid ScamsIn today’s world of modern technology, seniors can unfortunately become the victims of many damaging scams. Equipping seniors with the tools they need to protect themselves against scams and shady dealers can help them become savvy consumers and shine a spotlight on fraud. National Fraud Awareness Week was introduced in the United States twelve years ago with the goal of proactively preventing and detecting fraud. This important observance will fall this week, from August 4-10, 2013, and includes an education campaign against scammers who prey on individuals and communities, particularly senior residents who are an increasingly vulnerable group. 

 

Keep in mind these Awareness Tips for seniors and caregivers:

How Financial Predators View Seniors

Studies show that seniors are less internet-savvy than younger generations and are more likely to lose money online to “highway” predators, who are well aware of this fact.  Scammers also view the elderly as gullible individuals with ready cash and as such, seniors are more likely to lose money in investment-type scams or fall prey to online schemes.

5 Top Senior Scams to Avoid 

1. Telemarketing – Including Internet, Phone and Mail

Con artists have different ways of operating. They may send out mail with “official” letterhead describing a problem with a bank account or other investment account. These letters often contain a sense of urgency when read, instructing seniors to provide passwords and account numbers to resolve a problems.

2. Healthcare Fraud & Identity Theft

The rising demand for Medicare has created an industry rife with abuse, where tricksters pretend to offer services in order to access identification card numbers. For example, a scammer may find out that an assisted living resident is a diabetic and offer to send medical supplies, with the sole purpose of trying to get ahold of the resident’s Medicare number.

3. Fake Charities

Fake charities are becoming increasingly popular and many scams occur directly over the phone or through the mail. Fabricators are likely to mention a reputable organization they represent and try to con the individual into making a cash donation.

4. Financial Investment Frauds

Scammers will often try to sell long-term securities to the elderly with the hope that seniors may choose to break the contract, thereby allowing the trickster to gain commission. 

5. Relationship Scams

Another type of investment fraud involves online dating scams which prey on the emotional vulnerabilities of seniors. Scammers will claim to be in love, eventually asking seniors to wire funds to them. Also very common are scams that involve “family members,” during which scammers claim to be the grandchild or other relative of the senior. They then ask the senior to wire funds to them right away to assist with an emergency situation or other urgent need.  

Important Advice:Never give out your personal information over the phone; legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive data during a call. Unless you initiate the transaction, never provide your credit card, Social Security number or other personal information online or over the phone.

The Long-Term Effects of Elder Fraud

Scams can have serious financial implications on a victim. A senior can lose their entire life-savings to a con artist before they realize they have been deceived. Even more scarring is the emotional impact that comes from the grief and embarrassment that a senior often internalizes.

Protecting the most vulnerable is one of the admirable services galvanized under the theme of National Fraud Week.

Key Takeaways:

  • Equipping seniors with the information they need to become savvy consumers is one of the best ways to protect them from becoming the victims of damaging scams.
  • National Fraud Awareness Week was introduced in the United States 12 years ago as a way to proactively prevent and detect fraud.
  • Scammers view the elderly as gullible individuals with access to ready cash - as such, seniors are more likely to lose money in investment scams or fall prey to online or phone schemes.
  • Never give out your personal information over the phone; legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive data during a call. Unless you initiate the transaction, never provide your credit card, Social Security number or other personal data online or over the phone.
  • Scams have serious financial implications on a victim; seniors can lose their entire life-savings to a con artist before they realize they have been deceived.

Assisted and Independent Living

If you are interested in senior living services such as assisted or independent living, please visit our website www.umh.org or contact us here to learn more about our communities and services!

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About Elizabeth Bemis

In 1998, I drove past an assisted living community construction site, learned that it was part of United Methodist Homes and realized the next stop on my professional journey was to work for a mission driven organization. Soon after, I joined the team as Executive Director of our Middlewoods of Farmington community and later served as Regional Manager for the Middlewoods properties before accepting my current role as Vice President of Marketing, Promotions, and Assisted Living Operations. I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, reading, walking, and love working alongside our staff, residents, and families to build strong communities that reflect the mission, vision, and values of United Methodist Homes.

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.