Successful Aging Resources
Protecting Indiana Seniors from Common Summer Scams
July 20, 2015
While many older adults in Indiana enjoy going on a vacation in the summer months, one group of people who doesn’t take time off is scam artists. In fact, summer is peak season for scams targeting seniors. From fake door-to-door magazine sales to home repair scams, helping protect a senior loved one can be challenging.
Target: Senior Citizens across the Hoosier State
Scam artists consider seniors to be an easy target for many reasons. Two primary ones are that older adults are more likely to be financially secure and less likely to report falling victim to a scam because they are embarrassed.
An Indiana senior may have a cognitive impairment that affects their ability to make sound decisions when it comes to money. Even those who are capable of managing their finances well may be too trusting and or lonely. Both can make older adults in the Hoosier state a prime target for a smooth-talking criminal who is willing to spend time visiting with them.
Scams to Talk with a Senior About this Summer
Here are a few of the most common types of scams that an Indiana senior should know about:
- Fake Blacktop Sealing and Roofing Companies: This is one of the most popular scams perpetuated against older adults in summer months. Workers pose as contractors who say they have leftover materials from a job they completed “down the street.” They offer the senior a price that sounds too good to pass up but requires them to make a decision on the spot. In most cases, these contractors do inferior work or don’t show back up to work at all. Or they complete the job and then use aggressive tactics to intimidate a senior in to paying more than the agreed upon price.
- Door-to-Door Thieves: Because people are outdoors and more accessible during summer months, door-to-door thieves are out in full force. They work in teams where one person’s goal is to distract the older adult out in their yard, while the other one sneaks inside an unlocked door and steals their valuables.
- Fraudulent Magazine Sales: Another scam that increases in warmer months is fake magazine subscriptions. Salespeople-- who are sometimes quite young--go door-to-door selling magazine subscriptions claiming to be part of a youth organization or church group. The senior will be asked to pay up front, but will never receive their order.
Protecting a Senior from Scams
- Talk about Potential Scams: The office of the Indiana Attorney General created a page to help seniors and their adult children learn more about scams. Senior Fraud tackles topics ranging from lottery scams to fraudulent tax relief programs that require a senior to share their social security number. Their website also allows you to sign up to receive text messages alerting you or a senior loved one to on-going scams in the area.
- No Solicitation Sign: While it might seem a little unfriendly, posting a No Solicitation sign by the front door may help prevent fraudulent visitors. It can also make it easier for your senior loved one to notify authorities that someone is on the property uninvited.
- Reminder Notes by the Phone: If a senior Hoosier is a little forgetful or too polite to hang up on a sales caller, post notes near all of their telephones to remind them not to give out sensitive information or make purchases without talking with you.
- Buy a Safe: Installing a small safe in a closet is another way to protect your aging loved one. If a thief or scam artist manages to get inside, a safe can put valuable possessions out of reach.
The bottom line is that preventing fraud and scams against seniors requires adult children or other family members to take an active role in educating them on how to stay safe.