As people age, maintaining independence and ensuring well-being becomes increasingly important. When families reach out to us at All Seasons Homecare looking for Contra Costa County senior services, many times they also ask for advice when it comes to protecting their loved ones from scammers. It’s important for everyone, including older adults, to stay vigilant against the rising tide of telephone scams. At All Seasons Homecare we are acutely aware of the significance of safeguarding those who are most at risk, especially those receiving home care in Walnut Creek or in-home support services in Contra Costa County and the Greater SF Bay Area. As such, we’ve put together eight practical tips to help protect older adults from scams and protect their financial security.
Tip #1. Knowledge is Power: Educate Yourself and Others
The first step in avoiding telephone scams is to understand what they are and how they work. Scammers often use fear, urgency, or enticing offers to manipulate unsuspecting individuals. Contra Costa County senior services organizations sometimes host workshops or seminars to educate older adults about common scams and how to recognize them. Stay informed about the latest scam trends by attending these events or educating yourself through resources available online, and then be sure to share the knowledge with family, friends, and caregivers.
Tip #2. Keep Personal Information Private
It’s important as caregivers and supportive family and friends, to remind older adults that they should never share sensitive personal or financial information over the phone, such as Social Security numbers, bank account details, or passwords. Legitimate organizations will never ask for this information over the phone. If you or a loved one receive a call requesting such information, it should serve as an immediate red flag.
Tip #3. Verify the Caller’s Identity
If someone claims to be from a legitimate organization, like an in-home support services provider in Contra Costa County, take the time to verify their identity. Hang up and independently look up the organization’s official contact information to confirm their request or inquiry. Professional scammers can impersonate phone numbers to appear genuine, so it’s essential to be very cautious.
Tip #4. Don’t Rush, Take Your Time
Scammers often use urgency to pressure victims into making quick decisions without doing any kind of research or investigation. Take your time and don’t let anyone rush you or a loved one into giving out information or making any kind of payments. If a caller insists on immediate action, it is most likely a scam.
Tip #5. Register for the National Do Not Call Registry
To reduce the number of unsolicited calls you receive, register your phone number and those of the older adults in your life with the National Do Not Call Registry (you can do that here by clicking donotcall.gov). While taking this step won’t completely eliminate all scam calls, it can help reduce their frequency.
Tip #6. Use Caller ID and Screening Tools
Most modern phones come equipped with caller ID features that display the name and number of incoming calls. Use this information to your advantage and help older loved ones screen their calls as well. If a call appears suspicious or unfamiliar, let it go to voicemail. Legitimate callers will leave a message, while scammers often hang up.
Tip #7. Be Skeptical of Unsolicited Offers
If you receive an unexpected offer, prize, or investment opportunity over the phone, be cautious. Scammers often use these tactics to lure victims into their schemes. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Tip #8. Hang Up on Robocalls
Robocalls are automated calls that play pre-recorded messages. These may be especially confusing to older adults, especially if they are already dealing with impaired cognitive function. If you answer a call and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, hang up immediately and help your older loved ones learn to do the same. Engaging with robocalls can lead to more scam calls overall.
Be Aware of Common Schemes
It is essential be be aware of the most common scams that target older people including but not limited to:
- Grandparent Scams: Scammers call and pretend to be the grandchild of the victim. This is especially heartbreaking and deceptive since they play on emotions and say they are in trouble and in need of money.
- Tech Support Scams: Scammers may call and say they are from a computer company or other technology. They explain that the person’s computer or smartphone has been infected with a virus and that they need to remote into the computer to fix it.
- Vacation or Sweepstakes Scams: Scammers might call and declare that the older person has won a prize, free vacation, or money. They then ask the person to provide credit card details or otherwise pay a fee to claim their prize.
- Social Media Targeting: It’s important to be careful about what information you or your loved ones share on social media as scammers can use the information you post to target you with scams. For example, if you post about your upcoming vacation, a scammer might call and pretend to be from a travel agency or hotel.
A Cautionary Tale
This cautionary anecdote is a perfect example of how tricky scammers can be when it comes to taking advantage of people. You can never be too careful in helping your loved ones navigate potential telephone schemes.
“While helping to take care of my mother-in-law during her elder years, I received a troubled call from her one evening. She was on the line with a salesperson who had contacted her to ask if she was interested in purchasing an emergency alert necklace to aid in her safety. Luckily, she had told the woman on the line she never made decisions without consulting me, and after realizing she was quoting approximately four times the price of similar products, I politely declined the woman’s offer. She began arguing which was alarming for my mother-in-law, so I carefully navigated peacefully ending the phone call. Following the call, the saleswoman called me back at my own home and proceeded to angrily insist that I must “want my mother-in-law dead” since I refused her offer. I hung up and reported her behavior to her company the next morning, all the while thankful I was able to protect my sensitive mother-in-law from this company’s predatory tactics.”
Take Charge of the Safety of the Older Adults in Your Life
At a time where there are more older adults needing protection from predatory and dangerous schemes, it’s essential to stay informed and vigilant against telephone scams. At All Seasons Home Care, our Contra Costa County senior services including in-home care in Walnut Creek and the Greater Bay Area, play a vital role in maintaining the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of older adults.
It is essential to stay informed and maintain vigilance against telephone scams. By following these practical tips, you can protect both your own financial security and that of your older loved ones, so that everyone continues to enjoy the benefits of a safe lifestyle that is as independent as possible. Remember, at All Seasons Home Care, we’re here to offer support in every way possible, so you can confidently help those you care about age in place without fear of scams jeopardizing your peace of mind.
For more information about our home care services in Walnut Creek and in-home support services in Contra Costa County, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (925) 363-4900.