THE ELDERLY AND THE HOLIDAY SEASON

Every year I update this post because of the different scams that are happening every year. It is important to keep our seniors and ourselves abreast of what is happening during this time of year.

The holidays tend to bring out the best and the worst in our society. People tend to become more generous than usual. Unfortunately, this is what scammers are counting on. Scammers also are searching Facebook and other sites for personal information to sound as if they know you.

According to the Better Business Bureau, Christmas is the time that scammers rely on the elderly to be more generous, concocting elaborate schemes and “sad stories” to tug that their heartstrings. One of the most recent scams targeted at seniors is the distress call regarding grandchildren. The caller tells the victims that he/she is their grandchild or calling for their grandchild. He/she tells them he/she or the grandchild is in trouble out of state and needs cash wired right away. The caller also tells the elderly victims not to tell his/her mother or father, according to police.

Another cruel scam is the Funeral & Cemetery Scams.  Scammers read obituaries and call a grieving widow or widower claiming the deceased had an outstanding bill with them and then try to extort money from relatives to settle the fake debt. In another tactic, disreputable funeral homes will attempt to capitalize on family members’ unfamiliarity with the cost of funeral services to add unnecessary charges to the bill or attempt to sell high-end products or services.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that dishonest telemarketers take in an estimated $40 billion each year, bilking one in six American consumers — and the AARP claims that about 80% of them are 50 or older Older adults can protect themselves by:

1. throwing junk mail away;

2. question the caller, usually this will deter him/her from speaking further;

3. when you are on the internet, make sure that you are on a secure site, particularly when making online purchases;

4. make sure that you do not select “remember me”or the “keep me signed in” to prevent anyone from accessing your online banking or shopping accounts;

5. do not give personal information over the phone;
contact the Better Business Bureau if you have questions about a potential contractor;

6. visit the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftc.gov, the National Consumer League at http://www.nclnet.org and AARP at http://www.aarp.org for the latest financial scams and reports.

As I always mention, please report all incidents to the proper authorities. You can also find information on the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

If you live in Philadelphia, PA or the surrounding areas or in the State of New Jersey, you may contact the Pile Law Firm at 610-718-6368 for assistance in elder law and estate planning matters. The website is http://www.pilelaw.com.

Please feel free to leave your questions or comments.

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