The holidays are a vulnerable time for seniors. People can feel more inclined to giving generously. At the same time, there are crooks or other opportunists who will try to take advantage of that.

Watch Out for Holiday Scams

The stats reported by CNBC show that seniors lose $2.9 billion each year due to financial exploitation. Here are some examples of possible scams:

  • A senior receives a call saying they have an unpaid bill, and they need to send a gift card to settle the balance by the New Year.
  • Someone calls saying that a grandchild is in distress and needs money to get out of jail and home to their family for Christmas.
  • A senior is convinced to donate to families for the holidays. The scammer explains that the families don’t have Thanksgiving dinner, or gifts to give to their children.

What can you do to protect against scams? Be aware that scammers can be random, but they can also be family members. Unfortunately, it is common for the scammer to be someone familiar to the senior. The holidays can be stressful for everyone; extra money is often needed. People take desperate measures, even if it means conning someone they love.

Supporting Seniors During the Holidays

Take these precautions to avoid the senior in your life from being scammed or abused during the last months of the year:

  • Give caregivers a break: Someone providing around-the-clock care can become drained.  This in turn can lead to neglect. Make sure the primary caregiver takes time off to celebrate holidays with their family. One option is to have the senior stay with family during the holidays.
  • Plan social events: Keep in close contact. Reach out and talk to your loved one. Set up visits, either in person or virtually. Invite them for a holiday sing-along or bake a treat together.
  • Talk about abuse and scams regularly: Have open conversations about scams targeting the elderly. Remind them that scams can increase during the holidays. Reassure them that you are a trusted confidante in case they need to report something uncomfortable, even if it means exposing someone in the family.
  • Watch closely: Check the bank accounts of your elderly loved one and watch for missing money, especially in large amounts. Be observant of physical signs of abuse, as well as social signs. If they go silent around specific people or a topic is completely avoided, don’t brush it off.

Our goal at Senior Safe and Sound is to keep the seniors in your life safe. Stay watchful during the holidays and arm yourself with knowledge to avoid scams. For more resources or warning signs of elder abuse, please email us at info@SeniorSafeAndSound.org or call 858-480-7551.

This information is intended to inform the public at large about this important issue. It is not intended to serve as legal or medical advice.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/13/older-americans-lose-almost-3-billion-a-year-to-scams.html