An 89-year-old Atlanta woman who suffers from short-term memory loss falls victim to dishonest roofers who charge her over and over for the same work. She pays $40,000 for a job that should have cost about $1,500. The same roofers swindle $72,000 from an 85-year-old man for repairs they said he needed even though his roof was new.
Con artists thieves love to prey on older people. They are seen as vulnerable because they are often isolated and alone. The elderly also tend to be more trusting. It doesn't help that many older people suffer from dementia or memory loss.
Mailing It In - Identity thieves steal seniors' mail, which may include credit card and bank statements. Sometimes ID thieves will even send mail to a senior to get them to give up valuable financial information. The mailings appear to come from the senior's bank or charitable organizations.
Trouble Calling - Scammers will also reach out to elderly on the phone and may represent themselves as being from the bank or charity. They will try to trick the elderly person into giving them bank account numbers or other vital financial information.
Going Phishing - Online phishing is another concern. Seniors may fall for an email that appear to be from a trusted source asking for social security to verify an account.
The number of scams against the elderly keeps growing. “A lonely senior is susceptible to romance scams. A senior who needs home repairs is vulnerable to a home repair scam,” says Rob Dunn, owner of SYNERGY HomeCare of Yuma. “Some of the scams are initiated in the door-to-door fashion, most are done on the internet or via "cold" phone call”.
Caregivers from SYNERGY HomeCare are trained to spot the signs that their elderly clients are being scammed. Once a caregiver noticed a female client withdrawing large sums of money from her bank account. Upon further investigation, the client had been the target of a “romance scam”. The lonely woman thought she was sending money to a man she met online after he convinced her he was going to move from overseas to be with her. According to Dunn, it can be hard to convince a senior to admit they are a victim. He says monitoring a senior's activity and educating them is the best option in most cases.
“As with anything, preventative conversations are ideal if you can educate a senior before they are exposed to the possibility of being scammed.”