MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Whether it’s having the strength to enjoy an exercise class, or maybe just playing a game of cards, there are several ways we all envision spending our golden years.
Unfortunately, this is the same time in life that people are often a target for scams.
“They’re available, most of the time. Seniors are at home, so they are there to answer the door or the telephone,” explained Kathryn Coulter, with the Aging Commission of the Mid-South.
Coulter told WREG, “People get scammed by lotteries and contests, every once in a while we get information about financial fraud, their identity has been stolen.”
Coulter says crooks know seniors have money saved and tend to be polite, even with strangers, which makes them especially vulnerable to financial intimidation.
“Let’s say a repair man knocks at the door and says, ‘Oh, I see you have a tree that needs cutting’ or, ‘I see that your roof needs repair,’ and then puts pressure on the senior, the price actually goes up,” Coulter said.
What’s worse is that seniors don’t have time to recoup the cash they could lose in a scam.
Some of the most dangerous senior scams include:
Grandchild in trouble – This is when someone calls late at night and pretends to be a grandchild needing money due to an urgent situation.
A red flag is any request to wire money, plus an excuse of why the grandparent can’t call back. If this happens, simply hang the phone up.
Vague condolences – Seniors get an email that appears to be from a funeral home, claiming a friend died.
However, it’s really an attempt to get them to click on a dangerous link. To avoid phishing scams, don’t click on any links from unfamiliar sources and delete the emails immediately.
Phony government threats – Crooks will often impersonate IRS employees or those from other agencies to force seniors to send money. Remember, government employees will not call unsolicited and ask someone to provide personal information and payments over the phone.
Coulter says seniors should follow some simple advice: “If you can tell that someone is trying to convince you to do something that you’re not comfortable with, you can just get off the phone, it’s okay.”
She also says if a senior does plan to have work or repairs done at the home, it’s critical to have a loved one help with gathering background information on the company.
In addition, Coulter says it’s a good idea for someone to be at home with the senior when a company representative visits.
Bogus charities and technical support for computers are others scams to look out for.
Coulter says the Aging Commission has recently taken calls from seniors who were pressured to sign up for health insurance they don’t understand, so the commission is offering a program to help guide seniors through the process.
Those interested can call 222-4111 for more information.