Protecting Seniors from Scams

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​Those of us in the senior care industry have heard more heartbreaking stories about senior fraud than we care to remember. Sometimes the culprit is a stranger, sometimes an advisor or helper and – perhaps worst of all – sometimes it's a family member. In all cases it's despicable, and we believe it's the duty of everyone who works with or cares for seniors to help safeguard them against this abuse.

Each year, during tax season, the IRS releases, the Dirty Dozen, a list of the 12 most common tax scams of the year. Familiarizing yourself with this list is a good jumping-off point if you are watching out for red flags that may indicate a senior in your care is being scammed.

Other scams that typically target seniors include:

  • Health care fraud including Medicare/Medicaid scams: according to experts, half a million Americans have been victims of identity theft and healthcare fraud. This might encompass anything from scammers falsely charging for treatments, to soliciting a senior's Medicare numbers, so it's important that seniors have a second set of eyes and ears for anything suspicious.
  • Medication theft: seniors who take prescription drugs are vulnerable to having their drugs stolen if they're not safely stowed in a locked safe. Ideally, only the senior and one other trusted person should have access to their medication.
  • Identity theft: Did you know that the last four digits of a social security number can be combined with employment history and addresses to take out loans and lines of credit? That's one very good reason for seniors to check their credit regularly. Everyone gets one free credit check a year by law, and staggering requests among the three credit companies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – can allow consumers to check their credit every few months.

  • Financial scams: scammers come in a variety of disguises and may even pose as the senior's grandchild, saying they got into a jam and asking their "grandparent" to wire money. Making sure older people have people they can trust to double check in these situations could prevent financial loss.

At Home Instead Senior Care, we've developed a program around resources senior care professionals and family members of seniors can use to help protect older adults from scammers. For more information, please click here.

For more information about helping seniors age safely and successfully in their own homes, please contact us!


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