Millions of people become victims of fraud every year, and the elderly are criminals’ favorite targets. Fraudsters reach victims through computers, mail, phone, or even TV and radio. Older Americans are often targeted because they are likely to own a home, have savings, and maintain good credit. They are also more likely to be trusting and polite, making it easy for swindlers to open communications.  

West Hills, CA seniors may not be as aware of the dangers as you are, but there are ways that you can protect your parents and grandparents from various types of fraud.

Keeping Elders Safe Can Be Challenging

Protecting older friends and relatives from fraud isn’t always as easy as simply warning them. Whether living alone or in an assisted living community, seniors guard their independence, generally do not like to be lectured, and aren’t comfortable admitting they fell for a scam. It means they can’t always take care of themselves. It’s best to diplomatically explain why a phone call, lottery scam, or letter isn’t real and remind them that authorities like governments don’t make unsolicited calls requesting information.

Seniors who choose assisted living In West Hills, CA, live in a secure environment but can still fall prey to scams. It’s a good idea to stay in touch with them, especially if you do not live nearby.

There Are Various Types of Fraud 

According to the FBI, dozens of scams target the elderly. Scammers know that older people are not as likely to report being victims because they may not know how to do so or fear their families might not think they can handle their affairs. Scams cost seniors $3 billion annually and include the following.

  • Romance scams. Lonely seniors looking for companions are easy targets for scammers on dating websites or social media. Criminals pose as potential romantic partners to gain access to personal data. 
  • Grandparent scam. Scammers pose as a child or grandchild in financial need.
  • Sweepstakes and lottery scams. Fraudsters claim seniors have won foreign sweepstakes or a lottery but need to pay a fee to collect. 
  • Government impersonation scam. Criminals represent themselves as government employees. They may threaten to arrest or prosecute seniors unless they provide funds. 
  • Tech support scams. Thieves posing as tech support experts offer to fix non-existent computer issues. Once they have access to victims’ devices, criminals gather sensitive information. 
  • TV or radio scams. Scammers defraud victims by running illegitimate media ads for legitimate services like credit repair or reverse mortgages.
  • Home repair scams. Fraudulent repair professionals show up in person and charge seniors for services they never provide.
  • Family/Caregiver scam. It is relatively common for the elderly to become the victims of relatives, acquaintances, and caregivers who take advantage of them to get money.  

How to Protect Seniors

One of the most important things you can do for the elderly is to explain how they can protect themselves against scams. Seniors are less likely to be victims if they recognize signs of fraud and know what steps to take. For instance, they should learn to resist the pressure to make quick decisions, be wary of unsolicited phone calls, and avoid providing personal information to unverified people or businesses.

As a friend or relative, you can take steps to help protect seniors from being swindled. Per AARP,  it’s crucial to speak to seniors without hurting their feelings or creating resistance.

Reverse psychology can work wonders. For example, if a parent or grandparent is involved in a quick-profit scheme or sweepstakes, ask whether you can get involved. This can be effective because parents rarely want their children to risk losing money. If they balk, you have an opening to ask why they are involved, opening the way for an honest conversation.

Let victimized seniors know that sharing their experiences could help others, encouraging them to provide details. If you do not live nearby, ask a friend, neighbor, or other senior living community residents to note whether parents or grandparents get a lot of phone calls or mail that suggests they are on scammers’ “sucker lists.”

Other options to consider include: 

  • Seniors’ phone numbers should be unlisted and think about replacing their landline with a cell phone, which should get fewer scam calls.
  • Keep an eye on your parents’ credit report to spot unusual activity.
  • Ensure a senior’s address is on the Direct Marketing Association’s opt-out list.
  • Be alert during the two or three-year period after seniors experience major trauma, which is when they are most vulnerable to scams.

Each year, criminals defraud vulnerable seniors out of billions of dollars, but there are ways to avoid these scams. Friends and family can monitor elderly relatives, take steps to protect them, and discuss the issue. Seniors are also less likely to be scammed if they recognize the signs of fraud and know how to avoid being drawn in.

Fallbrook Glen of West Hills is an assisted living community that offers seniors a luxurious setting, exceptional care, and a vibrant social calendar. Residents enjoy safe, secure lifestyles designed for their needs and interests.