Preventing Independent, Proud Elders From Feeling Foolish,
and Ashamed, and Possibly impoverished
Most of us would quickly get rid of an email requesting we send money for a friend whose wallet was lost in London. We’d recognize the scam immediately. But there’s a more insidious ploy with serious emotional consequences for older people, that I was unaware of until I read the just-received November issue of ConsumerReports.
Scam artists and con (wo)men targeting seniors is not news.
What is news is reading about the personal, emotional damage to elders–in addition to financial loss. “A Crying Shame-Seniors and their families lose $3 billion a year to con artists. What can we do to stop them?” arrived in our mailbox Thursday.
These scams/frauds are so carefully conceived and executed that it’s easy to understand how aging parents–indeed all elders and possibly some of us kind-hearted souls–could be sucked in. The well-documented, personal stories of the emotional fall-out–that I, at least, was unaware of–is compelling.
Coincidently–or ironically– two pieces of seemingly scam mail arrived in the same mail as our ComsumerReports, addressed to now-deceased Sr. Advisor R. We changed her mailing address to ours, eliminating the forwarding time so we could attend to her things in a more timely manner–all categories of mail now come.
(Apologies– I automatically tear off around name and address before recycling so had to reconstruct a bit for these photos. Click to enlarge.)
Above, a “2015 Final Notice” requesting contact info in order to pay off (nonexistent in R’s case) debt; asking if credit card debt was a minimum of $6500, as well as amount of debt.These people at the CA address would get name, address, phone #, + credit card #. A nightmare in the making.
The second seeming-scam, a first notice: “PACKAGE SHIPMENT ON HOLD” –perhaps more clever with an Official Delivery Notification For (fill in name). Jewelry “valued at approximately $325” is waiting to be delivered. There’s a $12.95 shipping charge.Call the toll-free number. “A valid Visa or Master Card is required.” There’s no way 101-year-old R ordered jewelry before her death months ago. ‘Nuf said.
Think about clicking this link (and do watch the short video), to read, then print out the ConsumerReports article so it can be shared with every elder we care about…or buy the magazine. It’s heartbreaking, but understandable, to read how these very savvy-seeming older people concealed vulnerability and involvement from family..
Self-image is so important. No one wants to feel stupid. Elders may fear risking independence and no longer being considered responsible if they admit to being deceived. Can we be certain our smart older relatives are immune to falling for a very clever scam?
A face-saving way of addressing this subject with elders: Start with the “I need your help” phrase, saying you read this article and ask them to read it–and if they think its information is as worthwhile as you do, share the article with friends. We can go a step further if we want and suggest that if we hadn’t read this article’s exposé, we too might have been duped.
As we try to help parents age well, we need to stay ahead of the game, don’t we.
Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities. respected professionals and selected publications–to help parents age well.