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Senior Care Professionals Huddle to Prevent Scams on Care Community Residents

Remind a senior never to give out personal information or money over the phone, rather ask for written information to be sent through the mail.
Remind a senior never to give out personal information or money over the phone, rather ask for written information to be sent through the mail.

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July 18, 2012

Sports teams huddle when it's time to strategize to counter the challenges of a looming opponent. Senior care professionals recently have found the need to huddle as well as part of a different type of game. They're looking to counter the deceptive practices of scammers who have developed new con games to target the elderly living in care communities.

These fraudsters phone residents, posing to be a grandchild in trouble and in need of money – some even using voice alteration equipment to make them sound more convincing. Or they work in teams, with one knocking on the front door of an independent living community to distract a senior while another goes in the back door to rob them of their valuables. Sometimes they pose as family in nursing homes in an effort to glean personal information to strip older adults of their identities so they can profit from their assets.

"We've been meeting with facilities professionals to share safety information about how to protect older adults from scammers," Jeff Huber, President and Chief Operating Officer of Home Instead, Inc., said. "Unfortunately, it's too common nowadays, and it has a profound effect on the seniors more than just the theft of money or possessions. Anxiety, depression and a lack of trust also can result."

The Home Instead Senior Care network's Protect Seniors from FraudSM program – developed with the expert assistance of the National Association of Triads – features a number of important tools. A Senior Fraud Protection Kit – available for download – includes a Criminal Target Scale, which can help senior care professionals and family caregivers assess how likely seniors are to be potential targets of a scam. The program is a joint effort with the Triads, an estimated 820 state groups – part of the National Sheriffs' Association – that work with local seniors, law enforcement and community volunteers to help keep seniors safe.

The following, a compilation of tips from fraud experts, is a checklist to help care communities ensure that seniors are protected:

✔ Ensure that processes are in place to prevent intruders from infiltrating a facility including safeguards to thwart scammers from posing as family members.

✔ Establish a strong defense by posting a "No Solicitation" notice in the care community.

✔ Remind residents of the need to shred documents that could be useful to criminals, including bank statements, credit card statements and offers, and other financial information. Documents that need to be preserved, such as tax filings and car titles, should be stored in a safe deposit box.

✔ Remind a senior never to give out personal information or money over the phone, rather ask for written information to be sent through the mail.

✔ Watch for individuals outside the family who have befriended a senior. Lonely or isolated seniors may be vulnerable to criminals who befriend them and provide companionship.

Here are other resources senior care professionals like you can share with family caregivers:

ProtectSeniorsFromFraud.com: This website features a variety of resources that can help family caregivers and seniors identify potential scams and tips to help try to prevent them from happening.

A blog: Caregiving Expert Dr. Amy D'Aprix answers questions about caregiving.

Information video: An educational video series discusses the crime of elderly fraud with a senior care legal expert and seniors themselves.

Educational materials: A Senior Fraud Protection Kit features tips and other resources including a Criminal Target Scale that can help families assess a senior's potential risk for being a scam target.

For senior care professionals who want to learn more about a variety of caregiving issues, the Home Instead Senior Care network is offering no-cost continuing education credits (CEUs) in conjunction with the Family Caregiver Support Series for Professionals. Pre-registration is required and can be completed at www.caregiverstress.com/professionaleducation.

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