You may not realize that hiring a private in-home caregiver off the Internet (like via Craigslist) or via word-of-mouth -- rather than hiring a licensed, bonded agency -- can increase the risk of your senior loved one falling prey to financial abuse, theft, or scams in the home. We provide extensive background checks, bond and insure our caregivers to deliver premier home care provider service.
Caregivers are not the only people who may try to commit fraud with your loved one. Older adults are widely acknowledged to be frequent targets of financial scammers. According to a recent survey by the Better Business Bureau, nearly 30% of all fraud victims are over the age of 65. Don't feel paranoid if you're worried that your parents or other family members may fall victim to fraud -- you're just being prudent. Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the chances your family will be victims.
Telemarketing fraud is probably the most common scam of all. Shady marketers may call the older adults in your family with investment schemes, vacation clubs, or sweepstakes plans, and then pressure them to sign up immediately because the offer is only good for a limited time. Often these marketers will demand some kind of up-front investment or fee to participate, which is always a red flag that the caller is not on the up-and-up. You can warn your older family members to not give out any personal information or credit card numbers, or otherwise buy anything from anyone over the phone. Also, make sure their phone number is registered with the national Do Not Call registry , which will significantly cut down -- if not eliminate altogether -- the number of telemarketers calling their home.
Internet scams can be rather tricky. Whether it's a phishing scam -- e-mails designed to trick people into revealing personal information, including passwords to banking sites -- or the well-worn Nigerian banking frauds, the Internet is rife with scam artists looking for potential victims. To protect your family members online, make sure they know not to give out personal information to strangers, download e-mail attachments from people they don't know, or click on links from unsolicited e-mail offers. Check to ensure that their antivirus software is installed and up to date, which will help protect them from inadvertently downloading malicious programs designed to collect personal information from their computers. And set their spam filters and Internet browser security settings to the highest levels possible.
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the U.S., according to the Federal Trade Commission, so it's a good idea to be wary about thieves stealing your loved ones' personal information, such as their Social Security number or their bank or credit card account numbers and passwords. With this information, identity thieves can open new accounts, rack up charges on credit cards, empty bank accounts, and generally wreak havoc on their bank balances and credit ratings. One way to prevent identity theft is to sign up your parents or other family members for credit monitoring services such as Experian and Identity Guard, which will alert you or them to any suspicious activity in their credit file, including applications for new credit or even suspiciously large spending on any existing accounts (most major credit card companies offer similar plans). These services can catch identity thieves before they do much or any damage.
If you're suspicious of a charity or company hounding someone in your family, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they have a record of complaints. Likewise, check with your state Attorney General to see if there are any criminal actions or complaints against the firm your loved ones are considering doing business with. The best place to report investment fraud is through the Securities and Exchange Commission . If you have questions or need help with any of these types of scams, we are always happy to help! You can reach us at 405.254.3046 24 hours a day/7 days a week!