At Electronic Caregiver, we care about the safety and protection of our clients — in all aspects of their lives. While our focus is on health, it is important for our older populations to consider protection when it comes to livelihood, identity, and finances. Avoiding a financial scam is at the top of the list.
The fact is that many of our clients are in a stage of life that makes them especially vulnerable to telephone scams, both by landline and cell phone (and even email, too). During the pandemic, many seniors have been left more isolated than ever from systems and structures (friends, family, church, even doctor’s offices) that can protect them from all types of abuse, including financial abuse.
More Seniors Falling Prey to Financial Scams
It’s estimated that seniors lose almost three billion dollars each year due to financial exploitation. Most of the scammers contact their victims via phone, but internet-based scammers also find seniors to be easy prey.
Seniors fall prey to scams much more easily than younger age groups, and the older the seasoned adult is, the greater the danger. Even cognitively able seniors are vulnerable, though the reasons are not well understood—or even agreed upon—by researchers, but many feel the data indicates that seniors’ inability to detect fraud is a result of being brought up in a different time, when courtesy and politeness were encouraged and commonplace. Our elders tend to think the best of others and find it very hard to just hang up on callers or ignore friendly emails. And the scammers know that. Older individuals who are lonely are also more likely to be victims of online fraud, posit some researchers. Research is continuing to search for the root causes, as financial abuse of seniors is increasing.
Why Seniors Are Easy Targets for Scammers
Family members also think that since their older loved one is still sharp mentally, or since they are educated and experienced in the world, that would know how to avoid a financial scam. In the late 90s, an AARP phone survey found that “many of the perceptions of the typical older adult scam victim do not correlate well with the actual portrait of victimized older persons.” In fact, the survey found that telemarketing fraud victims are active in life, take an interest in current events, are educated, and are well-off financially – hardly the picture we usually have of victims. Research published in the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect by scientists at Rush University School of Medicine found a positive correlation between age and susceptibility to scams in individuals without dementia, but no consensus on why. A possible takeaway from these studies is that it would be wise to be alert to the vulnerability of ALL older adults to scams.
Main Areas to Avoid a Financial Scam
To bring it back to the beginning—why are we the ones talking about this subject? Whether it is health or wellbeing — the safety of our client is at the core of our business. The more awareness there is, the safer our communities can be. Right now, many people across the country are being targeted by bad actors pretending to be from the IRS, calling about social security fraud, Coronavirus stimulus payments, and more. In an uncertain economy, there are those who seek to take advantage of that uncertainty by threatening or harassing seniors and demanding they email or give personal information over the phone. They may even ask for wire or electronic funds transfer.
And when it comes to your health, if you use our Premier or Pro Health system, help is available at the touch of a button. An Electronic Caregiver® Rapid Response team member is there to listen, reassure, and offer guidance along the way. We care as much about your financial and emotional health as we do your physical health!
If you think you, or a family member, is the victim of one of these scams, here are some resources that may help: