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Caregiver Alert for Elderly Scams

older adult scamWe are into the season of giving, but for some dishonest scammers, it is a season for taking. Older adults are targeted more often because they answer their home phones, they have more cash available and the services scammers purportedly offer are more often the services older adults may want. Older adults may be more trusting as well. So, if you are a caregiver to an older loved one, here are some of the scams you should alert your loved one to and be on the lookout yourself:
Great Investments – If there is one thing that older adults fear more than losing their mental faculties, it likely is running out of money. They may have made solid investments in safe securities, but they may be easy prey for someone calling to let them in “on a limited time offer.” It may not be huge investment, but it promises a hefty return. Just remember, if it seems too good to be true, it most often is.
Cheaper Medications – With the changes of the Affordable Care Act, older adults will have the chance to save more money on their expensive prescriptions, but the allure of cheaper meds offshore is still present on the internet. Make sure that the pharmacies making the offer are legitimate – and many are – but ask for substantial verification before ordering scrips; your loved one’s primary care physician may be of help.
Fake Charities – This is another one where you want to verify the legitimacy of the cause. Especially on the heels of the tornado disasters recently, there may be callers posing as agents to get money to victims of disasters. Verify! The IRS posts lists of tax exempt charities on its web site, and there is another great site called Charity Navigator (
Pleas for Help – What grandparent does not have a soft spot for their grandchildren? Scammers can call older adults with just enough information to appear as one of the grandchildren in some kind of trouble that requires an immediate cash transfer. Caution your older loved one not to respond to calls from “their favorite grandchild” that offer no identifying name. Verify!
Bad Checks – If your older loved one is selling anything on-line, beware of the scammer who just happens to have a cashier’s check that is for an amount much greater than the purchase price. They will ask if the excess can be wired to them along with transfer of the item. This is the part where the original check turns out to be bogus, so your loved one is out the sale item and the cash difference.
All of these are just some of the examples that have played out in holidays past, but be prepared for the next new scam. And know that it will be too good to be true.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to


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