Seniors Should Be Aware of Financial Abuse and Exploitation Scams

Computer scams-elderly

Scammers and imposters are taking advantage of heightened fears in this time of COVID-19, and seniors should be aware of the dangers.

That’s the word from Chicago-area police departments and authorities.

“With COVID, everybody seems to be grasping to get money in a criminal way,” said Alsip police officer Rocco Merlo, who serves in the crime prevention unit. “Identity theft is rampant now. People are stealing identities to get unemployment benefits.”

Merlo was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune recently, which pointed out that seniors should report any suspicious activity to the Illinois Department of Aging.

Elders Are Targeted

The Department of Aging says,

“Elders are the principal target of con artists, sweepstake fraud schemes, and home repair fraud operators. By some estimates, older persons account for 90% of all fraud victims. Seniors are thought to lose tens of billions of dollars to fraud every year.”

Officer Merlo said that telemarketing scams deceive seniors with claims of non-existent bank accounts or bogus car maintenance agreements.

And those posing as IRS agents call and threaten arrest to those who don’t make payments and don’t straighten out tax filings, he said. The IRS never calls people about tax problems. They send letters.

Computer Scams

Tech scammers call and insist that seniors buy anti-virus software to avoid losing computer functionality and internet access, Merlo said. These scams can come on the internet while browsing the web as well. They ask for bank account numbers and passwords.

The Tribune also reported that offenders pose as municipal workers and demand to be let into homes on urgent matters or be let in to check gas or water connections. They quoted Gerald Vetter, division chief for Investigations for the Oak Lawn Police Department, who warned older adults of these kinds of ruse burglaries. Criminals in this way distract seniors and go through the house and steal jewelry, cash or financial records.

Grandma Scam

“There’s also a grandma-grandpa scam,” the officer said. “Callers identify themselves as a grandson or granddaughter in trouble needing money to get out of jail.”

Elders should simply hang up, Vetter said. He said it helps to pay attention to the caller ID and to not answer unknown phone numbers. Legitimate callers will leave a message, he said.

Caregivers of Destiny Senior Care are always on the lookout for such scams. Having a caregiver in the home for even a few hours a day can serve as a watchful set of ears and eyes for such dangers.

To find out if Destiny Senior Care can meet your needs, call us at the number at the top of this page, or fill out the form on our contact page, or click here to set up a phone appointment.