One of the biggest scams against senior citizens is telemarketing fraud. It is a $40 billion dollars a year scam. While much of that money comes from every age group, most of it is from senior citizens. Seniors make twice as many purchases over the phone than any other age group. It's possible these scams target them because they are familiar with the days of buying over the phone. They didn’t have problems with past purchases so they will go through with it. This makes them easy prey.
Telemarketing Frauds To Be On The Look Out For
Sweepstakes, Lotteries, and Prizes: These are the scams where the victim has won a great deal of money or high end products. For them to receive their winnings, they will need to pay a processing fee. The marketer wants your loved one to make a quick decision in turning over important information, so they pressure them with “this is a once in a lifetime call” or “when we hang up your winnings are void”.
Remember, if you have to pay a "processing fee" then you won nothing. Legitimate sweepstakes and lotteries should be something your loved one remembers signing up for or buying a ticket for. The paper work or ticket should be in their possession.
Investments:Investment firms do not solicit investments. Unsolicited investment calls are almost always scams. Remind your loved one there is NO GUARANTEE to double or triple an investment. If they want to invest, help them find a firm who will work with them.
Health, Life, and Burial Insurance: While your loved one has every right to be concerned with insurance, they should never buy from an unsolicited phone call. I’ll never forget the day of my husband’s aunt’s funeral. One of her daughters received a phone call that morning about burial insurance for her mother. They claimed they could still pay for the burial even though she didn’t have it before her death, but they had to buy the insurance right then. Legitimate Burial insurance is NOT bought after the death of a loved one.
Health Supplies: When health supplies are needed, the doctor tells a patient where to buy from. Many times insurance companies have to be notified beforehand to approve the use of the supply. Along with the approval, they may even suggest where to purchase them. Unsolicited phone calls from health supply companies are scams.
My father used a company in the past for his diabetic supplies. A fake company using the legitimate company's name with a local phone number kept calling to change his supplies. We contacted the legitimate company regarding the matter, but they claimed there was nothing they could do about it. (Really?!) Because of problems like this, the doctor recommended that he go with a chain pharmacy. He is now using that pharmacy and picking up his items and he is not being hammered with scam calls.
Last year, after my mother’s doctor recommended braces for her knees, she was called about a brace order. I answered the phone and when asked if someone there had been fitted for braces; I told them no and she hasn’t heard from them since. Did someone in the doctor's office sell her information?
Help your loved ones to remember not to answer questions during unsolicited phone calls. All it takes is a little prying and a scammer will have what they need to change orders or place fraudulent orders in their name.
Utility Company - This scam was just talked about today on the news...again. Scammers claiming to be the local utility company and demanding payment or the utilities being shut off. No company is going to call and ask for a late payment over the phone. Remind your loved one of keeping up with their records so they will know if they missed a payment.
The Grandma Scam: This scam has morphed into different ways of being processed. All it takes is tugging at the heart of an unsuspecting elderly person regarding a grandchild causes money to be sent.
A caller will say something like “Hey, Grandma, you know who this is?” trying to get the victim to give a name. Once given, it becomes a little personal, and the caller gives the speech they are in a situation where their parents will kill them if they knew about it and for them to not tell it. The caller will go on about needing cash because they don’t have the money or their credit card won’t be accepted. When asked where to send the money, Grandma is directed to use Western Union.
Another way this will play out is the caller will have done research and know the grand kid’s name and use a spill like “Mrs. _______, this is Jack, I’m friends with your grandson, James. James has been in an accident and needs medical attention. He has no proof of health insurance and the hospital is requiring cash money for the services.” They will then go on with telling to use Western Union to wire the money.
The first time I heard about this, I didn’t even know it had a name. But it was a scam my sister-in-law’s elderly parents received from someone claiming to be my nephew and in need of money. Thankfully, she knew better and hung up.
While Western Union is a legitimate company wiring money all across the world, many of the users are not legitimate. If a caller mentions sending money through Western Union, IT IS A SCAM! There is no paper trail to follow the scammer when money is wired.
Telemarketing fraud is just one of many ways we need to help our elderly parents and loved ones to not fall into these traps. If you missed last week's opening post on my series you can find Protecting Our Elderly Loved Ones from Scammers. Join me next week as I share part three in the series.