The holidays should be the most wonderful time of the year, but unfortunately, they can also be the most common time of year for scammers.
“The holidays bring a sense of generosity and well-being, which scammers take advantage of,” says Barbara Harrison, Executive Director of Bridges® by EPOCH at Westwood, a memory care assisted living community in Westwood, MA. “Seniors aged 65 and older are more vulnerable to being targeted simply because they often have great credit, a retirement fund and own their home outright.”
It’s also true that those who are in the early stages of dementia are more vulnerable to scams, Barbara explains. “A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that older adults who had low scam awareness had as much as twice as much risk of developing cognitive impairment as less-susceptible peers,” Barbara says.
If you have a loved one with memory loss or have an older adult in your life who is susceptible to things like scams and scammers, here are some common schemes to keep an eye out for:
Online shopping scams.
During the holidays, especially in 2021, people are looking for good deals online for Christmas gifts. However, it’s important to be cautious and extremely vigilant to know when something is too good to be true. During the holiday season, scammers use fake (but convincing) offers that lure individuals to share information or download malware onto their devices. Some ways this scam unfolds is through offers like:
- Downloading an app for huge discounts. Some scammers offer a chance for huge discounts by offering a specific app. However, before clicking on a link to download, it’s essential to make sure the company’s name is spelled correctly and if there are reviews. If there are mistakes or no mention of it, it’s probably fraudulent.
- Gift cards for being a loyal customer. A common scam is connecting with an individual saying that they have received a gift card for being a loyal customer. However, remember that there’s no such thing as a free lunch – if you’re getting something “free” for no reason at all, it’s possible that someone is trying to steal your or your loved one’s information.
- Problems with your purchase. Have you ever received a message from a retailer you frequent that says there was an issue with a recent purchase? If you’re like most people, you may click on an enclosed link simply because you do so much business with that company. However, this is often a scam that is focused on getting you or another individual to input banking or financial information for the benefit of the scammer.
- Fraudulent gift card requests.
Gift cards are often the gift of choice for adult grandchildren and other loved ones. However, it’s essential to be alert about where you purchase gift cards – scammers have been known to tamper with physical gift cards in stores and other locations. If you want to buy gift cards for family members, it’s best to do it on the retailer’s website or at the register yourself.
- Grandparent scam.
One of the more insidious scams is the “grandparent scam” – a con where an individual calls an older adult pretending to be a grandchild in trouble. The scam takes many forms but generally revolves around the “grandchild” needing money for legal fees, medical issues or other financial woes. If someone is calling and pretending to be a relative, and you have a funny feeling in your stomach, hang up and call a relative yourself – even if the “grandchild” says to not call their parent, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Charity cheats.
During the holidays, we’re often called to give, which means that adults are susceptible to requests for funds from not-so-legit charities. Scammers may pose as someone from a reputable charity or from a charity that’s completely made up, looking to get a quick buck from you or a loved one.
Ways To Keep Loved Ones Safe
If you or your loved one are suddenly being targeted for scams, here are some steps to take to ensure the safety of yourself and your family members.
- Don’t click on suspicious links. If you receive a message saying to click on a link and submit information, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. It’s always best to go through an official website or application if you need to submit information – if anything feels wonky, it’s best to contact someone at the actual company (using information you find through official channels).
- Never feel pressured to make a decision. Scammers often press on older adults to make a decision or take action immediately, relying on confusion and urgency to get seniors to do what they want. Tell your parent to say that, no matter what, they need to consider the request. True charities and people in need will give them the grace to talk to family members and make an informed decision.
- Be wary of requests to wire money. Money transfers via wire transfers are often suspicious. Often, a wire transfer does not provide the sender with any sort of safety, so whenever possible, use another form of money transfer (if necessary). In a true emergency, payment can usually be worked out. Be wary of anyone who requires payment instantly to “solve” a “problem.”
Exceptional Care & Fulfilling Lifestyle
Bridges® by EPOCH at Westwood provides memory care assisted living that is comfortable, positive, safe and engaging. Exclusively dedicated to caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, our community offers a wellness-focused lifestyle that promotes dignity and individual preferences. Our memory care professionals receive specialized and ongoing training designed to help residents maximize their independence in a secure, calm environment – enriching the lives of our residents every day.
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No matter what level of care or service is needed, residents and families can rest assured that our care and life-enrichment programs address the various stages of memory decline, allowing residents the opportunity to age in place.
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At Bridges® by EPOCH at Westwood, our services are designed to recognize and adapt to the unique challenges and individuality of each resident while ensuring comfort and safety. We believe in a full-service approach to care and provide a high level of personalized attention for residents in various stages of memory loss.
Bridges® by EPOCH is New England’s largest stand-alone memory care assisted living provider.
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