by Mary Brook
Julia was having lunch with a friend from work when her phone rang. She saw it was her Mom normally, she would wait to call her Mom back but this was the second time her Mom had called her during lunch “Hi Mom, what’s up?” she asked.
“Julia are you ok?” her Mom asked? “ I had a phone call saying you had been in a car accident and are being held in jail. They said to send money for your release.”
Mom, “I’m fine don’t worry the person on the phone was trying to exhort money from you with a scary story.” Julia could hear the anxiety in her Mother’s voice and she tried to reassure her she was alright.
“But Julia, her Mom exclaimed, it felt real and I was so scared it was hard to think straight. But, I remembered you and I talked about phone scams and if someone calls saying to send money I was to call you.” ” Thank goodness you are safe and thank you for taking the time to prepare me for phone scams,” her Mom said.
What Julia and her Mom experienced is a very common and easy to do phone scam. An imposter calls an elderly person stating a family member is in trouble and asks the family member to send them money to bail them out of jail usually by wire transfer. To make matters worse many times a senior will not share the phone experience with a family member because they are too embarrassed.
Julia was proactive in helping her Mom overcome the desire to send money to strangers. By talking to her in advance about what may happen in a scam helped her Mom feel in control of the situation. But just talking may not be enough. Printing out a list of scams and placing them by the phone or computer is a visual reminder for an elderly parent about scams.
After reviewing what happened with her Mom Julia decided to set up Nomorobo , a Robo and telemarketing prevention application that blocks unwanted calls but allows legal calls through.
Whether it’s phone scams or cyber security fraud the cost to seniors is $328 million a year affecting one in five people, according to AARP and FTC. wwwaarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2018/grandparent-scam-scenarios.html
There are many other types of senior scams. To see a complete list of Top Ten Financial Scams Targeting Seniors, read The National Council on Aging in-depth article, “Top 10 Financial Scams Targeting Seniors.”
How to prevent senior fraud to your family and friends. Maria Bass, store manager with Umpqua Bank in East Placerville, CA offers financial tips to help the seniors in her community.
Many families find it’s hard to talk with their parents about scams but having the talk is an important part of prevention. Parents can be stubborn but keeping open communication about the phone and computer will bring peace of mind to everyone.