Telephone scams intended for older adults are nothing new, with an astounding $36 billion lost every year to financial abuse. And the latest senior phone scam circulating is hard for many older adults to detect until it is too late. Center for Elder Law and Justice attorney Nicole K. Parshall explains, “There is always a new variation of a phone scam. Scammers are very good at developing new tactics in order to engage with specific types of individuals.”
The latest company to look out for is Utility Savings Expert, which pledges to cut seniors’ utility, phone, cable, and other regular bills in half. Seniors are invited to simply share account information from the bill they’d like to reduce. The organization then actually takes care of the bill in full, with the agreement that the older adult will reimburse half of the cost by wire transfer only—no checks or credit cards accepted.
Once the senior’s funds have already been received, the organization reverses the charge to the phone or utility company, leaving the senior liable once again for the full cost—plus the additional 50% they’ve paid to the scammers.
Seniors are frequent targets of con artists, for a number of reasons: expected vulnerability, accrued wealth over a lifetime, and a sense of courtesy and manners that will make them reluctant to appear rude to the caller. Additionally, recent research from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research revealed a decline of up to 1 percent per year after age 60 in decision-making skills, further adding to the risk of falling for phone scams and fraud.
Just how are you able to protect your older loved ones from falling victim to highly sophisticated, and quite often believable scammers such as these? The Federal Trade Commission advises individuals to never take part in business with an unknown company. Another red flag occurs when a business asks for a wire transfer as payment. Screening phone calls and just answering those from known and trusted sources—and hanging up immediately on anyone who calls asking for personal or financial information—is also encouraged.
Sadly, many seniors fall victim to scammers simply because they’re lonely and enjoy the opportunity to talk to someone on the telephone. Atlanta Home Care Partners, Inc. can ease senior loneliness and minimize the chance of a senior scam with our professional in-home care companionship and caregiving assistance. Call us to learn more about home care in Atlanta, GA and how we can keep your senior family members safe and sound.