Seniors tend to be disproportionately targeted for scams and financial abuse because they are often more vulnerable than younger populations. They can have advanced medical needs or dementia that put them in a position of dependence upon others. A lot of seniors have other people manage their finances because they’re unable to do so on their own.
All of this puts the elderly in a position where they need to trust others. And it puts them in a place where they are more likely to be targeted by criminals. This doesn’t mean that all seniors are going to be targeted, but it does increase the odds of it happening. Armed with this knowledge, we can help the older folks that are close to us stay safe. It starts with being aware. And at times like this, we shouldn’t be surprised to see new scams come to the forefront of public knowledge.
One scam that has been around for a while is a phone call that attempts to gain information about medical needs. The caller may claim to be from the Department of Social Services and is calling to help get you approved for Social Security benefits of some sort. A phone interview will follow with questions about medications, physical disabilities, and other seemingly important things. Then, to conclude everything, they will ask for more personal information, like Social Security number and bank account information. At this point, it might seem like a mere formality and the unwitting individual will supply that information. And they’ve just fallen for the scam.
If you or someone you know has fallen for something like this, get in touch with law enforcement right away. If they aren’t already aware of the scam, they can help to publicize it and keep others safe. They might not be able to track down who is behind this, but they can at least try to put an end to things. And who knows? Your report might be the one that gives them enough evidence to track down the bad guys and ensure that a criminal gets served with the justice they deserve.
Additionally, a lot of communities have free legal resources for those that have been impacted by scams like this. A quick Google search can help get you pointed in the right direction. For those in the Bay Area, Legal Assistance to The Elderly (SF) can be a good place to start. Not everyone will qualify for this service because it is based on income, but it may be helpful for some.
Unfortunately, criminals will use times of tragedy and fear to take advantage of others. There’s a reason why these things are despicable, and the fact that people will use times of confusion and fear like the COVID-19 pandemic that we’re all going through to try and swindle someone else should not be a surprise to us. Rather, we should just be aware that the odds of something like this happening to the people that we know and be on the lookout, prepared to act if needed.