Senior Safety | April 1, 2023
According to the FTC, nearly 25 million Americans are victims of consumer fraud each year. Older adults continue to be a rapidly increasing segment of the population targeted by con artists. In fact, financial scams targeting older adults have become so prevalent that they are now considered to be “the crime of the 21st century.” And this crime against older adults is not always one that is perpetrated by strangers. Over 90% of all reported abuse of seniors is committed by someone in their own family. Shockingly, financial abuse such as depleting joint checking accounts, promising but not delivering care in exchange for money or property, and even outright theft is most often committed by the senior‟s own adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and others. And it‟s not just wealthy seniors who are at risk. Low income older adults are commonly targeted as well.
As a caregiver, how do you protect your loved ones from falling victim to scams? Protecting your senior comes down to four key actions: being aware, being careful, doing your homework, and asking for help if you find that your senior has been the victim of a financial crisis. Here are the ten most popular scams targeting older adults according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) followed by some practical but important ways to protect him or her, and also next steps to take if you discover that fraud has occurred.
The top ten scams targeting seniors include:
You can help protect your older adults and reduce their risk of financial abuse by making him or her aware of the risk of elder financial abuse. Avoiding isolation by staying involved with friends, family, and community activities throughout their lives is likewise helpful. Seniors should also include safeguards in their durable powers of attorney to help prevent those being misused by their agent is another way to secure his or her assets. Refusing to engage with anyone who calls or comes to the door selling anything or looking for donations is another good practice. Using direct deposit for checks will ensure that they go right into their accounts and are protected. And finally, never giving credit card, banking, or other personal information out over the phone unless he or she initiates the call is a good way to maintain the integrity of this very private information.
If your older adult falls victim to fraud, immediately call his or her bank and/or credit company, cancel any
debit or credit cards linked to the stolen account, and reset the personal identification number(s). There is
help for suspected elder abuse as well. Every province operates an elder abuse programme. The Canadian
Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse can help you find resources in your community.
“Senior Fraud: A campaign aimed at older Americans to keep them from becoming victims of fraud and
identity theft,.” National Crime Prevention Council
“Savvy Saving Seniors®,” National Council on Aging, www.ncoa.org
“Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors,” National Council on Aging, www.ncoa.org