Although you and I can’t imagine cheating anyone- especially a sweet-natured senior citizen- thousands of other people can. In fact, they make a career of lurking in the shadows, waiting to the win the trust of your aging mother, beloved grandfather or isolated, elderly neighbor.
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, 56 to 80 percent of fraudulent telemarketers intentionally dial senior citizen’s telephone numbers. This is appalling information, of course. But this statistic hopefully has your full attention. To protect the aging loved ones in your family, you must commit yourself to two goals: one, to consistently stay abreast of fraud and scams directed toward the elderly; and two, make sure to educate your aging loved one about the do’s and don’ts of telephone communication, email responses, door-to-door sales visits and how to safely dispose of important personal information or documents that are no longer necessary to keep.
Aging seniors are often easy targets for criminals because:
- The senior may be confused easily during telephone contact, either by dementia or hearing impairment.
- The caller is a smooth talker who wins the trust of the vulnerable lady who lives alone.
- If the dishonest telemarketer speaks sternly, demanding perhaps, that she absolutely must provide personal information, elderly seniors may feel intimidated, stressed and confused. More often than not, fraud has again been accomplished by the time the phone call ends. The senior may be unsure of how to judge if the call is legitimate, so the more pressured she feels; the more likely she is to give the demanded information.
- The con artist telemarketer strikes up a conversation and asks many questions which not only builds a trusting relationship for a later con but also, the senior has unknowingly provided personal information to a potentially dangerous stranger. “You sound lonely today, Mrs. Smith. Does your family live in your neighborhood? What day does your daughter stop by? And that’s the only time you see other people? Just on that day? Well no wonder you sound a bit depressed.” You get the picture. By the end of many conversations, seniors have unknowingly placed themselves in danger not only for identity theft but also for burglary or worse.
Identity theft is rampant in our country and every person of every age is a potential victim. Keep in mind, though, that career thieves scope out particular trash cans- especially those of aging seniors. They wait for innocent victims to carelessly toss banking information, social security numbers, etc. in the trash can. So make a list of don’t-throw-away documents and tape it to your loved one’s fridge, to help her remember what to keep. Then periodically collect documents that are no longer needed and safely shred the information.
Helping aging loved ones can be a challenge because they can unwittingly become the targets of unscrupulous con artists that neither they, nor you, see coming. Your best defense is a proactive offense- starting with awareness.
Checking on aging loved ones every day to be sure they are safe is a challenge, however, you don’t have to go it alone. You have a valuable resource in Diana Beam, founder and owner of Keeping in Touch Solutions. Diana has ways to help your aging loved ones continue to live independently and safely in their own homes as long as possible while giving family comfort and peace of mind. Learn more at http://www.KeepinginTouchSolutions.com
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