Tips and Advice to Avoid Scams and Fraud

Aging Matters

Online shoppers aren't the only people who fall prey to fraud and scams. Even if you don't have a computer in the house, you're at risk. Scammers are everywhere and they love befriending older adults because a lot of them are lonely and they will talk with anyone on the phone to break the monotony of being alone.

The Equifax data breach affected 143 million consumers. The hackers accessed Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver's license numbers. I know several individuals who don't have online accounts, and hackers still stole their driver's license number. So, just because you don't have the Internet, don't assume personal information and data is safe.

With all the scary news about hackers, my industry contacts say to follow these safety tips.

  • Cirillo at the says to check the AARP site for current fraud schemes. Be especially careful when answering the phone if you do not recognize the number. If you have a landline, get caller ID. Same with answering the door. Install a door bell with a camera. Pick up your mail promptly since mail theft is on the rise.
  • Schempp an elder care advocate says not to give donations to people who come to the front door or who sends requests for donations without first checking them out. If you are unsure of a family member handling your finances, hire a professional fiduciary. Don't be embarrassed to let someone know if you suspect fraud or abuse -- physically, emotionally, or financially.
  • Harper at believes the enemy of abuse is isolation. While most family members of aging seniors are in denial, more than 45% of seniors in senior living communities say they've been abused. Hiring a senior care auditor to visit regularly to assess the senior, their environment, and the caregiver is an inexpensive way to prevent and detect abuse.
  • Chamberlain at suggests using the TrueLink Visa card, which is set up with certain restrictions, limits and tracking/alerts. Awareness and communication are key...many times older adults don't tell anyone they've been scammed because they're ashamed.
  • Foreman at Long Term Care Associates, Inc. advises to check your bank statement carefully each month and monitor for unsanctioned withdrawals. Always remove mail promptly from your mailbox, and stop delivery while you're away. Shred mail that displays personal info on it, and restrict your online shopping to secure merchants.
  1. Report telephone scams to the Federal Trade Commission, either online or by phone at 1-877-382-4357.
  2. Report all robocalls and unwanted telemarketing calls to the Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222.
  3. Report caller ID spoofing (deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise identity) to the Federal Communications Commission at 1-888-225-5322.

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Carol Marak, aging advocate and editor at She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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