Senior Citizens Resources: Helping Protect Our Elderly With Resources On Money, Housing, Health, and More
Senior citizens are prime targets for fraud attemps and scams due to several factors according to the FBI. First is their likelihood to have a "nest egg" of money saved up, and second is the fact that they often don't report crimes out of fear of being seen as having reduced mental capacities by their family members.
A 2011 study by MetLife found that the annual financial loss of elders who were victims of financial abuse was at least $2.9 billion dollars. Strangers accounted for 51% of the fraud perpetrators in this study, follow by family, friends, and neighbors (34%), the business sector (12%), and Medicare and Medicaid fraud (4%).
Many of these fraud cases begin with a phone call. Elderly are highly susceptible to phone fraud since many still have landlines. A study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that only 19% of those over 65 lived in a wireless only household, this is a steep drop off compared to other age groups. More than two thirds of adults aged 25 to 34 live in wirelesss only households, 56% of those over 35 years old and 40% of 45 to 64 year olds have wireless only households. There are many variations of phones scams, and scammers target the elderly often times because they have landlines and are more easily reached via caller ID spoofing.
We have dedicated ourselves to increasing awareness about phone scams that affect the elderly and giving helpful tips on how to avoid these scams. Common phone scams that target those over 55 years are the grandparents phone scam, the Jamaican lottery phone scam, and Medicare/Medicaid/pharmaceutical phone scams.
To help keep our seniors safe, we have compiled a list of helpful fraud prevention and general resources for individuals over 55 and for those who are caring for elders.
- Reporting Phone Scams
- Romance Scams
- Direct Mail Scams
- State and Federal Agencies
- Senior Housing Resources
- Legal Resources
- Personal Finance Resources
- Medicare/Medicaid Resources
- Wellness Resources
- Special Needs Seniors' Resources
- Veterans' Resources
We've created a helpful guide on how to report spam and scam callers. If you've been targeted by a nuisance caller it's important to report them to the appropriate authorities.
Scammers claiming to be from the IRS should be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). You can file a report online or call 1-800-366-4484 to report IRS impersonators. Remember the IRS will NEVER call and demand payment of back taxes.
Other spam and scam calls, like free vacation offers, unwanted telemarketers, charity scammers, credit card interest reduction offers, and overly aggressive debt collectors, can be reported the the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Reporting phone scams to your local authorities and your state's Attorney General is a good practice too. Many scammers will target specific geographical areas at a time, it's likely that if you are receiving scam calls others in your community are also receiving them.
Romance scammers particularly target those over 50 on online dating sites. It's important to know the warning signs of a romance scammer. They are usually very quick to profess their love, they are unable to meet in person, and they will ask for money.
If you or a loved one is being targeted by a romance scammer, do not wire money to them and report them to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
Junk mail can pose a potential threat to seniors, many lottery phone scams start with a mailer that seems like a sweepstakes and request information such as phone and address.
SeniorNet, a non-profit organization that provides computer education to seniors, has created a helpful guide on how to detect mail fraud and reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. AARP also has compiled a list of companies that will help you stop all of the junk mail.
DMAchoice is an online tool that allows you to manage your snail mail.
OptOutPrescreen allows you to opt-out of receiving credit card offers in the mail.
CatalogChoice allows you to opt-out of receiving certain catalogs in the mail.
The National Council on Aging provides information on each state's aging council. Your state's aging council can provide you with local resources, like nutrition programs, caregiver support programs, and other community programs.
Benefits.gov will help you connect to benefits programs that you are eligible for including Medicaid and energy assistance programs. BenefitsCheckUp works similarly to help you find benefits programs that you are eligible for.
The Eldercare Locator can help you find eldercare resources in your community. You can search their database by location or topic, or you can call them at 1-800-677-1116.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides helpful resources for seniors who are staying in their home and for those who are looking for apartments.
There is also this helpful guide on home modifications that can be incorporated into senior homes.
There are many several resources and organizations that are dedicated to helping the elderly. It's important for families who are acting as caregivers to their elderly to meet with an attorney in order to avoid problems, like issues with powers of attorney.
The American Bar Association (ABA) allows you to search for legal counsel by your state. The ABA also has a dedicated Commission on Law and Aging that works to improve the legal rights, dignity, autonomy, quality of life, and quality of care of aging persons.
In addition to the ABA, there is also NAELA. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. seeks to provide support to organizations that help aging and special needs individuals.
Justice in Aging is a nonprofit that fights against senior poverty and provides legal consultations to low-income individuals.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides many tools for seniors and for their families.
The CFPB provides resources for the financial protection of older Americans, including information regarding powers of attorney, court-appointed guardians, and trustees in their free and downloadable guide for managing someone else's money.
- Common Types of Elder Financial Exploitation
- Scams Targeting Veterans
- Identity Theft
- Medical Identity Theft
- Scams that Target Homeowners
- Planning for Unexpected Life Events
- How to Be Financially Prepared for Disasters
Elderly are susceptible to Medicare and Medicaid fraud, especially during the open enrollment period that takes place. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) offers resources for Medicare and Medicaid recipients.
Some seniors may no longer be able to drive or may not have easy access to transportation options, the National Center on Senior Transportation provides this guide on transportation options for seniors.
Additionally, the National Council on Aging provides this guide for helping elderly stay fit and avoid falls.
Some seniors may also need special adaptive equipment to help them with mobility and other everyday tasks. The Real Deal blog gives a helpful guide on how to save while purchasing adaptive equipment.
Seniors with special needs may often face greater financial and health problems, there are a variety of state and federal programs that are designed to help special needs seniors. The Retiring Wise Blog has put together a group of resources to help families caring for seniors with special needs.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a variety of benefits and services to Veterans and their dependents.