The Battle Against Elderly Financial Scams | Bay Alarm Medical Mondays
June 15, 2015
The issue of elderly financial abuse is something Bay Alarm Medical has continued to discuss over the past year. Financial scams against seniors are pulling over $36 billion annually from their pockets.
On this segment of Bay Alarm Medical Mondays, we have teamed up with True Link Financial to discuss scams against seniors and ways to protect you and your loved ones from becoming victims of financial exploitation.
Alan: Hello! Welcome to another addition of Bay Alarm Medical Mondays.
My name is Alan, and I have James here with me from True Link Financial. Today, we are going to talk about scams among the elderly. Let’s get started!
(Bay Alarm Medical Mondays Intro)
Alan: Hey guys, I am in San Francisco at the True Link Financial office. James is the Head of Marketing. James, can you tell us about what your company does?
James: True Link is financial services firm that helps seniors and their families protect themselves from scamming, fraud and financial abuse.
Alan: Tell me about why you joined the company.
James: I think most of us at True Link have a story in our family of how our grandparents or our parents faced the issue of financial abuse. My grandmother was giving money to charities over and over again without realizing she was even giving out so much money. This story in our family really showed me how pervasive this issue can be.
Alan: Scams among the elderly is a huge problem, can you tell more about that?
James: As we got more into the issue of elder financial abuse. True Link did some primary research and discovered that the full scope of the issue in the U.S. is about $36.5 billion a year. It is broken up into three parts:
Trust abuse, which is when someone gets very close to the senior and gets them to give them money. Fraud, is something we know about and is easily identified as illegal. The largest piece of the puzzle, which is $17 billion is known as Exploitation. It’s not necessarily illegal but it’s definitely shady and designed to target those who are older, those who have diminished capacity and those who have a harder time understanding the ins and outs of a specific deal.
Alan: I went onto your website [which is great by the way!] You guys give a list of different scams. I wanted to go over three of which I found really interesting. The first one is the ‘Obituary Scam’—tell me about that.
James: The obituary scam is one where the scammer will look through a small town newspaper and go through obituary section and look for someone who has a surviving spouse.
They will then target that spouse, get in contact with them and tell them that their spouse that passed away has left a large amount of debt and that it would be really embarrassing if it didn’t get paid off. So, during this time of anguish, the effected person will just send money to avoid the embarrassment.
Alan: Yeah, so this is going to be a recurring theme in this conversation. The fact that the scammer will get you to make a decision before having time to think about it. The second one is the ‘Grandparent Scam’
James: Yes, this one we have heard a lot about in the last year or two. The scam goes that the senior will get a call in the middle of the night [when one is disoriented] and the person says “Grandma!” and grandma will usually answer with a name, something my grandma often does.
She will say “Is this James?” and the scammer will say “Yes! This is James. I’m in Central America and I was just arrested. I need $2,000 right now but please don’t tell mom and dad because they’ll be really mad.” The grandmother will get up and go ahead and transfer that money in this moment of confusion.
Alan: Now tell us about ‘TV Shopping Trickery’
James: We find that once a person signs up for one item on a television infomercial or ad selling something at a great price, they are then offered more items for free but what they don’t know is the high cost of shipping and handling for each item and that the items are nonrefundable. Moreover they might call you a week later and try to offer more items on sale and use very persuasive language to get them to purchase more.
Alan: Thank you, I learned a lot. That was great. So, we just went over some major scams to watch out for. What kind of advice do you have for the elderly to protect themselves from being scammed?
James: So there are three things we tell people:
The first, never give financial information over the phone unless you initiated the phone call. The second tip is to be really aware of those pushy marketers. Any time someone is really aggressive with a sale, take their information down and contact someone you really trust before making decisions. The third tip is to ask questions and to ask for help from someone you help you evaluate the validity information.
Alan: Yeah, it’s always good to take a day away from it and not make any snap decisions.
James: Exactly. You know, at the end of the day, if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.
Alan: You guys offer the True Link Financial Credit Card, tell me more about that.
James: The True Link card is designed for family members, people who have loved ones who need a little extra help. Often times, when someone lost money through some time of exploitation, fraud or trust abuse, the best solution seems to be taking away their money, checkbook and their independence.
But with our card, we have custom spending settings where the card can be used at the movies, grocery stores or restaurants. So, if they give the card number to a telemarketer or a door-salesman, we can block the transaction.
Alan: Let’s go through a real-life example. So we were just talking about the TV Shopping Trickery, let’s say my grandma has the True Link Card and she wants to make a purchase for an item she just saw on a TV ad, how will your card help protect her?
James: So if you and your family have customized the settings to block the TV shopping then we will be able to void those transactions. She will not lose money. We have helped people save thousands of dollars with our card.
Alan: Wow, that’s great for the peace of mind. Well James, that’s all I have for today. Is there anything else you would like to add?
James: I just want to thank, True Link really appreciates companies like Bay Alarm Medical for taking an interest in the issue of elderly financial abuse and taking a stand.
Alan: Thank you, James.
If you are interested in a True Link Card or want more information, click here.