New Phone Scams Targeting Seniors

One of the most common telemarketing frauds taking place around Michigan right now is what is called the “grandparent scam.”

According to Glenn Clark, a member of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division “Senior Brigade,” between 55 and 80 percent of the telemarketing scams they see are aimed at seniors. The grandparent scam, sometimes known as the “emergency scam,” occurs when the con artist obtains the name and phone number of an elder. They can do this simply by combing public records.

The scammer calls a senior and says some version of, “Hi, Grandpa! This is your favorite granddaughter.” The victim may respond with, “Susan?!” or a pet name, and now the scammer has a name to use. Often the call is made to sound as if there is interference or static on the line to disguise his or her voice. The scammer will say there has been some emergency, or that she is stuck far from home and needs funds wired immediately. The sense of urgency and heightened emotion on the other end of the line can cause some elders to become confused and anxious, especially if they are hard of hearing or have some cognitive decline issues.

Tips? Slow down. Ask for personal details if you are unsure if the caller is legitimate. Get their contact information, and hang up. Contact a mutual relative for verification. Did the caller ask you to not tell their parents they are in trouble? Do it anyway. Or, contact local police on a non emergency line for assistance in verifying the call.

If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, you may file a report with police, Attorney General’s office (877-765-8388) or the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov).

Christopher J. Berry is an elder law attorney Dedicated to helping seniors, veterans and their families navigate the long-term care maze. To learn more visit http://www.theeldercarefirm.com/ or call 248.481.4000

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