Millions of seniors fall victim to scams each year in the United States. Some of the most common financial scams are directed to adults aged 60 or over. When our parents fall victim, what can and should we do?
Common financial scams targeting seniors include:
- Home service contracts
- Romance fraud
- IRS impersonators
- Online shopping scams
- Computer tech support fraud
- Grandparent scams
- Arrest or lawsuit threats
- Identity theft
- Sweepstakes scams
Sadly, isolation and loneliness often play roles in the vulnerability of aging parents to scams. Startling facts about senior financial scams from the 2021 Elder Fraud Report for Older adults over 60 years old include:
- 92,371 seniors were victims of financial scams
- $1.7 billion in losses
- 74% increase in losses from 2020
- $18,246 is the average amount lost per person
- 3,133 seniors lost more than $100,000
Parents want to live independently. Caregivers and family members work with their aging parents to keep them living in their homes for as long as possible. However, how can we protect our parents from home service and repair scams?
How Do Seniors Become Victims of Home Repair Scams?
Most homeowners are familiar with the onslaught of offers from roofing companies for free estimates after a terrible wind or hailstorm. Unfortunately, home service and repair scammers do the same thing. They take advantage of storms and other disasters to prey on senior homeowners.
Scammers do not wait for storms to take advantage of elderly homeowners. A scammer can find something that needs to be “fixed” or “repaired.” It could be a hole in the roof, tree limbs that “must” be cut before they damage the home or drain spouts that “need” repair because they “cause” leaks into the home.
Disreputable home repair companies and service providers frighten elderly homeowners. They tell the horror stories about other homeowners who lost their homes or paid tens of thousands of dollars because they did not make the necessary repairs immediately.
Sadly, many seniors are fooled by these scare tactics. Scammers are charming and patient. They make repeated visits to the home, spend time with your aging parents, and show an interest. The result? They get a foot in the door, and your parents become victims of senior financial scams for housing repairs.
Parents may or may not realize what has happened to them. They may not want to tell their children, family members, or caregivers about what happened. They could be afraid of losing their independence if their family discovers they are victims of scammers.
What Can and Should You Do to Protect Your Parents from Home Repair Scams?
Contact the authorities if you believe your parents are the victims of financial fraud or home repair services. To reduce the risk that your parents become victims of elder financial abuse, talk with your parents about home repair scams.
Discuss ways that scammers take advantage of homeowners. You should also discuss how to tell if a contractor or repair service may be a scammer.
Red flags a contractor might be a scammer:
- A contractor, representative, or repair person shows up at the door without an invitation
- Your parents receive uninvited texts, calls, or emails
- Repair companies show up after severe storms
- The contractor offers a “today only” or “special deal” if you act now
- The repair person says they are doing work in the neighborhood and have some extra materials they can use for the “right” person
- The person demands payment in full before work begins
- Offers significant discounts if they can use your home as a model
- The contractors will not produce current permits, insurance coverage, license, etc.
- The repair person demands payment in cash
- They offer to help you find a company that finances the project or helps you find a loan officer who can help you obtain an equity line on your home
Tools and services like Livindi can help you protect your parents from being victims of home repair scams. With Livindi, the only people who can call your parents on the tablet are the ones you invite, so they will not get any calls from telemarketers or other unknowns looking to take advantage of them.
Even though you cannot be physically present, you can participate in any meetings and conversations between contractors and your parents during a video call to your parent's tablet. Closed captioning ensures your parent can read along with the conversation should you have any questions or need clarification for the work they want done.
Additionally, your mom and dad can also connect with our concierge services if they need assistance and are unable to reach you.
Download your free copy of our “Top 10 Tips for Seniors to Avoid a Home Repair Scam.” Use this guide to discuss home repair scams with your loved ones. We are happy to provide information about Livindi products and services which limit the access to your loved ones only to the people you choose. Call (508) 416-6030 to learn more.
If you or someone you love has fallen victim to elder fraud or scam, you can report it. Contact the US Office for Victims of Crime OVC) by calling the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). To learn more about the OVC, visit https://ovc.ojp.gov