Why Are Seniors Easy Targets for Scams?
A scam is a fraudulent scheme designed to trick people into removing barriers to their wealth and valuables. For instance, a scammer may call someone pretending to be a government official and ask for the person’s banking information and social security number. If the person is someone who trusts government officials or has fear of disobeying government officials, their first reaction might be to believe the scammer and give up their information. A confidence trick, like this example, is the main way scammers get people to give them access to confidential information, valuables, and assets.
Confidence tricks do not work on everyone, which is why scammers have learned who to target. The Federal Bureau of Investigation cites seniors as the group that is most susceptible to fraudulent scams. There are a number of reasons why seniors are easy targets for scams, but fortunately there are ways to reduce the risk of being targeted. One of the main lines of defense for seniors is having a family caregiver or home caregiver who can help protect them from elder abuse. This is a value that home care services provides to seniors and as a support to family caregivers. If you’re curious about home care services in California, please contact Alegre Home Care at one of our Northern California locations and we’ll be happy to answer any questions.
Reasons Seniors Are Easy Targets for Scams
Three of the main reasons why seniors are easy targets for scams are outlined below, along with suggestions for ways to reduce the risks.
Telemarketing and Infomercials
The key demographic for telemarketer targeting is women living alone who are over the age of 60. Seniors in general are at risk for infomercial and telemarketing scams. Telemarketers sell bogus services and products over the phone or through infomercials on the TV. The scams typically involve free prizes, low-cost medical products, and miracle health and wellness “cures”. Since seniors are more likely than other age groups to watch television and use a landline, they are more accessible to telemarketer scammers.
The best line of defense against these types of scams is education. Many seniors do not understand how the scams work or why they are targets. A family member or home caregiver can sit down with seniors in their care and explain the things to watch out for, such as being asked to provide credit card information or companies that make “too good to be true” claims. The other line of defense is blocking certain television channels and phone numbers. Caregivers can help monitor incoming calls and help seniors block any suspicious numbers.
Seniors who have cognitive disabilities, often from illnesses such as dementia, are at risk in two ways. The first is that their cognitive impairment makes it difficult for them to problem solve and to process information, which makes them prone to manipulation from scammers. It is much easier to sell to someone who struggles with memory loss than to someone who doesn’t. The second way is that seniors who have cognitive disabilities are more likely to purchase services or products that promise to increase cognitive function, restore memory, cure disease and so on. Con artists know that seniors who have a cognitive disabilities are vulnerable and will want a cure, so these scammers will make outrageous claims knowing that seniors will easily believe them.
Home caregivers can help by acting as a second set of eyes. If caregivers notice that new pills or strange health products have shown up in a senior’s home, they can inquire about it and discern if the senior is falling victim to scammers. It is also helpful to enlist the support of a senior’s doctor, who can provide education about what services and products can truly help with cognitive impairments.
There is often stigma around asking for help. Many seniors who live alone don’t want to admit that they are not as capable as they used to be. They may be afraid that they will lose certain rights if they ask for support or that they may lose their independence. Seniors may not understand how to report elder abuse or may feel ashamed for being victimized. There is also a fear that if seniors admit that they were scammed, certain relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.
Losing your independence is a frightening ordeal. Seniors in this situation become increasingly vulnerable as they rely on others for support and literally put their lives into the hands of other people. This is why home care services are so important. Home caregiving allows people to age within the comfort of their own homes, surrounded by a familiar setting and cherished belongings. In this way, seniors are able to maintain a level of independence and do not have to give up things that they love, such as access to their communities, their homes, and their animal companions. Home caregivers provide care in a way that is both personal and confidential, and act as a point of trust for the people in their care. Due to this dynamic, seniors who have home caregivers are not at risk of losing their independence if they confess they have been victims of a scam.
Home Care Services in Northern California
Companionship, light housekeeping, meal preparation, personal care, medication reminders, errands or respite are only few ways the home caregivers at Alegre Home Care can help you stay independent in your own home. Please contact us if you are interested in home care services.