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How caregivers can fight fraud targeting older adults

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Posted at 5:56 AM, Feb 18, 2022

NORFOLK, Va. - Your money belongs in your pocket and not in the hands of scammers, but unfortunately fraud is at an all time high.

AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, said you should have your guard up if someone has called out of the blue and is urgently trying to get you, or someone you care for, to withdrawal money from an account, send money, or put cash on gift cards.

They said the top scams include “urgent” phone calls, emails, texts or social media messages. Scammers try to put the pressure on people so they can't think clearly and act impulsively.

AARP also said that older adults are more vulnerable, in part, because they have a lifetime of savings and are generally more trusting.

"They tend to own their home, they may have a lifetime of savings, they may have more available credit and they're also more trusting and polite so they are less likely to hang up the phone on someone," said Amy Goyer, AARP's family and caregiving expert.

In fact, a new survey by AARP said nearly one in five caregivers report that their loved one has lost money to a scam.

"Commonly with older adults, they'll they'll do government, imposters, they're gonna say they're with us Social Security, or IRS or Medicare, and you've got to pay this money right now. Or you're going to lose your benefits or you owe the IRS. Or they may say that they're with a utility and that you haven't paid your bill. And your services are going to be cut off," she said.

Research by AARP shows that 3 in 5 caregivers are women, a little less than half are under 50 and around 4 in 10 are people of color.

Receiving a scam phone call, like the Grandparent scam, can be scary so if your loved one does fall victim, try to have some grace. Remember to also report the crime to your bank, local authorities or the AARP Fraud Watch Network.

Prevention is possible. Here's how:

  • If you're a caregiver, talk with your loved ones about fraud and scams. The more aware you are, the easier they are to spot.
  • Role-play a 'refusal script' to leave by the phone so loved ones don't get caught in an unwanted phone conversation. AARP suggests something that says, "I do not do business on the phone. If you have business to do with me, send it to me through the mail."
  • Sign up for alerts and notifications so you are aware of any activity on bank accounts.