Adult children should be sure that their parents understand the clever strategies that telephone scammers use as they encourage elders to part with credit card information. Over the past several days I’ve received two phone calls on my home landline, aiming to convince me that I ordered a personal safety device and that it was ready for delivery. The caller laughed when I said I did not make the order, pointing out that I probably forgot.
The best line in the conversation — “Oh, from time-to-time we all forget that we ordered something.”
Taking advantage of memory issues is a new twist, for me anyway. The scammer tries to convince people — in this case me — that they purchased a device for safety reasons, but … somehow I must have forgotten about it. I assume a fair number of people do not want to admit that they forget things and thereby make themselves easy marks for a caller who takes advantage of the anxiety about memory lapses.
I wrote a post about a similar phone scam, Call About Personal Safety Devices, in January 2013.
What is significant about my most recent calls was how refined the pitch has become. The caller, a real person, asked me when I wanted my personal safety device delivered. I played along, acting like I did not remember making the order, and worked hard to sound doubtful. The scammer zeroed in, friendly but with laser-like precision, pointing out that I must have forgotten and that the personal safety device was ready to deliver AS SOON AS I PAID WITH MY CREDIT CARD.
Every time I expressed doubt, he had another warm and friendly explanation. When we finally parted ways, I thought I was finished with him but he called back today, reminding me of our conversation and asking me if I remembered the order that I had made.
Forewarned is forearmed.
It appears that seniors are receiving phone calls that attempt to scare them into making personal safety device purchases with a credit card, and it feels like a scam. I received one yesterday on my mobile phone.
An urgent voice asks for a senior citizen noting that break-ins, robbers, medical emergencies or falls are scary and a free solution will make them safer. Moreover, the voice offers a solution that’s supported or endorsed by the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the National Institute on Aging — three well-known and reputable organizations. To learn how to protect myself from all of these terrible problems the voice asks me to hit a number on my phone.
Well I am not a senior — yet — but I know a fair amount about media literacy, and I’ve spent countless hours telling my parents, my husband’s parents, and various other family members and friends, to hang up when they receive these urgent telephone calls asking them to make a purchase. However … I didn’t hang up because I was too intrigued. I pressed number one.
Next a reassuring woman’s voice explains that the Senior Emergency Care company – with a AAA rating from the Better Business Bureau and endorsements from all of the above organizations — is offering me free equipment and free registration and shipping — equipment that will help me avoid or prevent scary life situations such as crime and health emergencies. The personal safety device that she is selling would, she told me, can be worn around my neck and will make me feel and be safer. Read more »
When my husband’s mother lived in an excellent assisted living community, we found severe weather to be a challenge. Huge storms, no matter what the season, made it difficult to stay in touch.
Gail Sheehy’s November 3, 2012 article about elder and medical caregiving during Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy is posted over at Caring.com. It’s a must-read for adult children whose elder parents live in caregiving settings or if a senior parent expects visits from visiting nurses or other home care assistants.
In How Assisted Living and In-Home Care Providers Responded to Superstorm Sandy, Sheehy explains that senior caregivers and visiting nurses went to great lengths to ensure the safety and health of the people in their care. She also describes efforts to remain in touch with adult children and other family members.
Up and down the northeast corridor dedicated and caring individuals continued to provide care during the storm, sometimes even moving in with a patient for the few days so they could be sure no lapse in care occurred. Other nurses and caregivers waded through water, talked themselves through police roadblocks, and found novel ways to charge their portable devices.
Take a few minutes to read As Medicare Drug Premiums Soar It’s Time to Shop Around, another informative article about prescription drug plan open season.
This October 2, 2012 Reuters article by Mark Miller goes into considerable detail about the rising premiums and explains what steps Medicare beneficiaries can take to shop around.
Best Quote from the Article: Premiums for many popular Medicare prescription drug plans will soar next year – but seniors don’t have to take the rate hikes lying down.
It goes hand-in-hand with the other article I reviewed in my September 30, 2012 blog post, Medicare Prescription Drug Plan: 2013 Info.
Medicare beneficiaries and their adult children can use these two articles, together with the Plan Finder at Medicare.gov. At the top right on the page is a button that takes visitors to an online demonstration of the Plan Finder.
In another of the excellent surveys from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, data show that more than 50 percent of older adults, 65 and over, use the Internet or e-mail. The survey was conducted via telephone interviews during the month of April 2012.
This survey is significant because the older adult age group had experienced almost no digital access growth during the last few years. Now that’s changed.
Ownership of cell phones has also increased in the over 65 demographic group. Sixth-nine percent of older adults in the survey not using a mobile phone.
The other day, at a pre-Mother’s Day weekend event, I sat in a room with hundreds of seniors — mothers, grandmothers, dads, grandfathers — and guess what? A good many of them had smartphones.
I was amused to observe, that a fair number of people in that large room were texting or at least checking their smartphones for various reasons during the event — something I’ve not seen in a large senior gathering until now — although many of their children and grandchildren do it routinely.
I observed that many of the seniors worked hard to check their phones discretely, much more so than their children and grandchildren.
For me this is one of those sentinel moments that highlights the transforming 21st Century digital world. Our world is changing, it’s increasingly connected, and everyone, even some of our older moms and dads, is learning how to use a digital gadget.
I expect that many of these seniors use their phones to keep in touch with family and friends and a fair number of them were taking pictures. I’ll also posit that some of them have health apps that they consult on a regular basis.
Check out the Aging Online blog for some interesting statistics on seniors and smartphone use.
If you have old and unused medications stashed around your house — or if your elder parents have them — make a note of the 2012 Take-Back Initiative. It’s sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and coming right up on April 28th (that’s this Saturday). Participants can safely get rid of pills and bottles that are sitting around in medicine chests and kitchen cabinets.
Interesting Statistics and Facts
About Other Take Back Events