Sunday, March 23, 2014

Elderly parents need caregivers to protect them against telephone scams.



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(picture from Clipart) Oh that all familiar sound, especially at dinner time! We all get it, most of us avoid it. Deep down inside, all of us know it is just someone doing their job - calling to see if we need something or want to donate to some charity, lower our mortgage, get a better credit card rate, the list goes on. Unfortunately though, not all callers are legit. The news in our area has been ripe with telephone scams, mostly aimed at the elderly. So what can you do to help your parents?
Sometimes the elderly will answer a call and keep talking because the other person is 'nice' and they don't want to be rude. Mom would do this sometimes. Unfortunately, the longer they talk, the better chance the caller has to get your elderly parent involved in their 'deal'.
'Fraud.org' has a webpage to help you educate your parent on what to look for in a call, to determine if it is fraudulent. One is to remind them that not everyone is just trying to make a living - there are actually people out there trying to take their money, that free prizes or gifts are not always available, easy money is not easy. Here are what they consider to be the red flags:
•A promise that you can win money, make money, or borrow money easily;
•A demand that you act immediately or else miss out on this great opportunity;
•A refusal to send you written information before you agree to buy or donate;
•An attempt to scare you into buying something;
•Insistence that you wire money or have a courier pick up your payment; and
•A refusal to stop calling after you’ve asked not to be called again.
Seniors should also be reminded that:
•It’s illegal for companies that operate contests or sweepstakes to ask you to pay to enter or claim your prize or even to suggest that your chances of winning will improve if you buy something;
•It’s illegal for telemarketers to ask for a fee upfront to help you get a loan if they guarantee or strongly imply that the loans will be made;
•There is no reason to give your credit card number or bank account number to a telemarketer unless you are actually making a payment with that account; and,
•If you have to pay first before getting detailed information about the offer, it’s probably a scam.
Check mom and dad to make sure that they do not:
•Receive lots of mail for contests, "free trips," prizes, and sweepstakes;
•Get frequent calls from strangers offering great deals or asking for charitable contributions;
•Make repeated and/or large payments to companies in other states or countries;
•Have difficulty buying groceries and paying utility and other bills;
•Subscribe to more magazines than anyone could normally read;
•Receive lots of cheap items such as costume jewelry, beauty products, water filters, and knick knacks that they bought to win something or received as prizes;
•Get calls from organizations offering to recover, for a fee, money they have lost to fraudulent telemarketers.
What to do to help? Put their number on a do not call list and do the same for their cell phone number. Check their bank and credit card statements. Screen calls. Learn how to hang up.
Robocalls are similar; these are recorded messages, usually shows 'unknown' for a number if you have Caller ID or 'spoofed'. Of course, these are easier for people to hang up on. 'SeniorSavvy.org' also suggests registering your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry @ 888-382-1222. Do not press any numbers prompted, even to disconnect, since that will tell them that this is a good number and they will continue to call. You can also check with Nomorobo to see if they can help you get their number off the list. If your parents seem to get a lot of calls, someone can keep track of those calls with a form from 'Fraud.org' - that way if you need to pursue some type of action, you will have a record. Click here for the form.

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