Lt. Kurt Boshart and Sgt. Ron Howard of the Harrisonburg Police Department gave a presentation about senior-targeting scams to the Aging in Place Business Round Table from the Harrison-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce. They warned us to be watchful for these scams, which have been reported to police in our area:
Home based Crimes
- Driveway sealing and paving – unscrupulous vendors promise a very low price and use inadequate materials that only last a few days
- Roof repairs using watered-down paint to masquerade as actual repairs
- Tree treatment using cheap chemicals that don’t work
- Front door/rear door burglary – one perpetrator distracts the senior at the front door while the other goes in the back door and robs the house
- “Medical Emergency” scam – the perpetrator tells the senior they need money to help a relative who is having a medical emergency
Prescription drug theft
- Family, friends, or caregivers steal drugs or fill prescriptions, then take the drugs themselves or sell them
- Letters in the mail masquerading as charities
- Fake phone calls asking to bail a relative out of jail, using personal details culled from social networking sites, trash, etc
- Identity theft using information from mailboxes and trash
Tips for Crime Prevention
- Be aware! Family members should alert their seniors of these scams
- Provide a list of reputable charities to seniors who want to contribute to their community
- Be suspicious! – many older people were raised to not be “rude”, and feel uncomfortable refusing offers or requests. But it’s important to say no if you’re not completely sure of the trustworthiness of the person you are speaking with
- Don’t be embarrassed! If you have been the victim of a scam, report it so police can try to prevent others from being harmed
- Lock doors and windows, and don’t keep car keys in the ignition
- If called on the phone by someone making a request, ask for a phone number where you can call them back. Criminals will usually dodge such a request.
- Shred documents before throwing them away, and don’t keep unnecessary documents that contain sensitive information.
- Check computers for malware, and set social network security settings to share minimal personal information.
- www.crimereports.com displays the locations and details of calls for police service in participating jurisdictions. The city of Harrisonburg is participating, though Rockingham County is not yet doing so.
- The National No Not Call Registry, www.donotcall.gov, 888.382.1222 – The National Do Not Call Registry allows you to opt out of receiving telemarketing calls at home.
See this link from Virginia’s Attorney General about fraud and scams targeted at senior citizens.
Know someone who worries about their elderly parent inCharlottesville, Staunton, or Harrisonburg Virginia? Care is There Geriatric Care Management can help! Have them contact me, Elizabeth, for a free consultation: 434.326.5323ext 2 or Elizabeth@careisthere.com.
Elizabeth Swider, Certified Senior Advisor and Certified Aging in Place Specialist
President, Care is There Geriatric Care Management
Support for independent living and long distance caregiving; assisted living enhancement