Sat12202014

Senior Lifestyles

Scams targeting seniors: what they are, how to avoid them

Senior-care experts are warning senior citizens to be on the lookout for fraudulent income tax schemes, advising them to be especially wary of e-mail or telephone correspondence from people who claim to be from the Internal Revenue Service.

According to the Elderly Abuse Investigation Unit, another prevalent fraud targeting seniors is fake jury duty calls. The caller tells the senior that he or she missed jury duty and, to avoid a civil infraction, needs to provide some private information to resolve the situation.

Bob Cunningham from Home Instead Senior Care recommends in-home caregivers as a second set of eyes to help protect seniors.

"Because scammers often target seniors who are alone or appear lonely, just knowing that a senior has someone to look out for him or her can be an important deterrent and help prevent devastating consequences," Cunningham said.

Local personal organizer Barbara Kouns recommends setting up electronic bill pay and banking to minimize the paperwork a senior must do. Many local seniors have the computer skills necessary to keep a financial system going once it is set up for them.

Top three senior scams

The National Association of Triads Inc. and Home Instead Senior Care outlined the top three senior scams and how they work.

• Prizes and sweepstakes scams. Seniors are told they've won a sweepstakes and all they need to do is send a check to cover the taxes. Or, they receive a fake check for $5,000 and are asked to deposit the money and send back $2,000 to cover the taxes.

• Home improvement frauds. Criminals will knock on seniors' doors, offering to fix their driveways. The scam artists paint the driveway black and charge the senior $3,000. Or, seniors are asked to pay up front to have their roofs fixed and never see the alleged repairman again.

• "Phishing" schemes. Seniors receive a call from someone claiming to represent a bank. Seniors are warned that their financial information or credit cards have been compromised and are asked to verify their bank account number or provide personal financial information.

For more information, contact Tom Albers of Home Instead Senior Care at (888) 296-2411. Personal organizer Barbara Kouns can be contacted at 796-1526.

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