Elder Abuse 101: Phone Scams

When you get a phone call from a number you don’t recognize, do you answer it, or let it go to voicemail? For seniors, phone scams can be financially and emotionally devastating. According to the FBI, older adults lose over $3 billion each year to a range of financial scams.

“Robocalls” are one of the most common methods used in phone scams. The tactics vary: for instance, the “Can you hear me?” scam records the older adult’s voice upon responding “yes”, and uses the recording as a signature to authorize fraudulent charges on the victim’s credit cards. Another popular tactic involves claiming that a car warranty (or other warranty) is about to expire, and that the senior’s immediate payment is required to renew it in time. Older adults with a cognitive impairment are especially vulnerable to these types of scams, and are more likely to freely give away their sensitive financial information.

What steps can you take to help prevent your elder loved one from becoming a phone scam victim? Generally, the best advice is to teach them not to answer the phone unless it’s a number they recognize. Remind them that most genuine callers will leave a message. Check their call screening settings, to ensure any suspicious numbers get flagged as “scam likely”. Register their phone number on the national Do Not Call list. Most importantly, teach them never to give out any personal or financial information over the phone.

One of the many benefits of choosing to work with a Life Care Planning law firm like ours is the guidance and education we provide on the latest phone scams affecting our community. Increasing our clients’ awareness of the techniques and approaches being used to target them offers reassurance to them that they will not fall victim. Knowledge is an important part of the best defense.

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