Groceries for Seniors: Phone Scam Overview
Ensuring that elderly loved ones are well taken care is a growing concern for many families. As of 2011 seniors account for 13.3% of the American population and it's projected that as of 2060, 20% of the population will be 65 years and older.
Many seniors live on a fixed income of savings and Social Security benefits and at times it can be difficult financially. Phone scammers have realized this and have begun to take advantage of elderly in this situation by calling and offering free and discounted groceries.
An Enticing Recorded Message
Like many other phone scams, the free groceries for seniors scam starts with an automated message. The message will inform the senior about a new government program designed to help them save money on groceries. The recording will claim that this program is for U.S. citizens 65 years and older. The recording claims that seniors will save thousands in grocery bills by enlisting in the program.
To seniors with a limited income and mobility, this offer can be very enticing. The recording will prompt you to press the corresponding number if you are interested in the program or leave a call back number. By pressing the corresponding number or dialing the call back number, you will be transferred to a representative who will be more than willing to help you sign up for this program.
Additionally, in many cases the fake program representative will also state that you are eligible to receive a free medical alert bracelet. Unfortunately, this too-good-to-be-true offer is in reality the way in which many phone scammers steal identities.
Keeping Seniors Safe
It's important to warn elderly loved ones about the dangers of phone scams. Seniors are heavily targeted by scammers because they know that elderly often do not report when they are victims of fraud. They may at first not realize that it is a scam and once they do it is too late. They do not report these scams because they do not want family members to think that they are incapable of taking care of themselves.
Make sure that seniors in your life know to never give personal information or money to anyone calling them on the phone. If someone calls and is asking them for money or for information like their birthdate, Social Security number or Medicare number, they should just hang up.
Getting the Word Out
The best way to stop this scam is to warn seniors in your life about it and also report any phone numbers being used in phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can also help spread the word by leaving your feedback in CallerSmart's online community phone book.
You can run reverse phone lookups in our online white and yellow pages directories and see other user feedback on phone numbers that have been used to scam people. If you have an iPhone you can also download our free phone tracing app that will allow you to search unknown numbers and leave feedback on the go.
For more resources and ways to protect your elderly loved ones, please check out our guide for protecting seniors from fraud.