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Emergency preparedness for elders - How to prepare a senior for natural disaster.

Southern California is a wonderful place to live, but unfortunately emergencies are a part of our lives here. Seniors, or those who care for them, must be prepared for the inevitable. The two best things you can do to improve your chances of survival during and after a disaster are to BE PREPARED and to STAY CALM during and directly after the event.


How to Improve Your Memory - 5 Easy Rules For Improving Your Memory

5 Easy Memory Improvement Rules
by Stacey Wright

We all suffer from a fading memory and bouts of forgetfulness, as a natural part of the aging process. In the August, 2013 Harvard Health Letter, (published monthly by Harvard University) Anthony Komaroff, M.D., addressed the issue of enhancing memory. In his column Ask the Doctor, Dr. Komaroff answered a reader's concerns about forgetfulness by offering his 5 "simple tricks".


How to Prevent Financial Abuse With Aging Parents - Signs of Elder Financial Abuse

All of us know a senior that lives alone and seems to be doing well managing their affairs. Maybe it's a neighbor, maybe it's a friend from church, maybe it's your parent. Life is busy, everyone has deadlines to meet and goals to attain. Sometimes the responsibility of keeping an eye on this person can be overwhelming. When your lonely loved one meets a new friend who seems to take an interest, seems to genuinely like your loved one and is actively involved with helping them you breathe a sign of relief; finally it's not all on you. But without active involvement and keen awareness, these lonely seniors are in a perfect position to be taken advantage of and it's almost always financial and it's almost always first.


Top Ten Scams Targeting the Elderly - Most popular senior scams and how they work

By Stacey Wright on Aug 13, 2015 at 05:02 PM

NCOA’s List of the Top Ten Scams Targeting Seniors

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) recently published an article outlining the “Top Ten Scams Targeting Seniors”. The list includes financial scams aimed primarily at elders, and briefly describes the hallmarks of each scam. Sadly, each and every one of the listed scams has come to the attention of law enforcement agencies in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, making scams on seniors a very real problem in our communities.

Please read NCOA’s list of senior scams in an effort to arm yourself against anyone who attempts to perpetrate a scam or financial abuse against YOU:

1.Since most people over age 65 qualifies for Medicare,many scam artists will easily surmise that a senior is covered by Medicare benefits. He/She will then use this information to scam the senior. In these types of scams, perpetrators pose as a Medicare representative to get seniors to give them their personal information, or they will provide bogus services for elderly people at makeshift mobile clinics, then use the elder’s personal information to bill Medicare and pocket the money.
2.Most commonly, counterfeit drug scams operate on the Internet, where seniors increasingly go to find better prices on specialized medications.The danger is that besides paying money for something that will not help your medical condition, victims may purchase unsafe substances that can inflict even more harm. This scam can be as hard on the body as it is on the wallet.
3.The FBI warns about two types of funeral and cemetery fraud perpetrated on seniors.

In one approach, scammers read obituaries and call or attend the funeral service of a complete stranger to take advantage of the grieving widow or widower. Claiming the deceased had an outstanding debt with them, scammers will try to extort money from relatives to settle the fake debts.

Another tactic of disreputable funeral homes is to capitalize on family members’ unfamiliarity with the considerable cost of funeral services to add unnecessary charges to the bill, such as a casket (usually one of the most expensive parts of funeral services) when performing a direct cremation. In reality an expensive casket is unnecessary in this type of disposition, which can be accomplished with a very low cost or free casket, rather than an expensive burial casket.
4.In an effort to stave off the physical signs of aging, many older Americans seek treatments and medications that promise to help them attain or maintain a youthful appearance. While there are reputable doctors and beauty spas that provide legitimate services and products, there are also scammers who prey on the man or woman in search of anti-aging answers. Whether it’s fake Botox (like the one in Arizona that netted its distributors $1.5 million in barely a year), or completely bogus homeopathic remedies that do absolutely nothing, there is big money to be made in the anti-aging business. Botox scams are particularly unsettling, as renegade labs creating versions of the real thing may still be making products with the root ingredient, botulism neurotoxin, which is one of the most toxic substances known to science. A bad batch of fake Botox can have health consequences far beyond wrinkles or drooping neck muscles.
5.Seniors make twice as many purchases over the phone as the national average. The most common scheme is when a scammer uses a fake telemarketing call to prey on an older person who may be less sophisticated than his or her younger neighbors. The fraudulent telemarketers use different types of opportunities, products and services, but never deliver as promised. With no face-to-face interaction, and no paper trail, these scams are incredibly hard to trace. In addition, once a successful scam has been made, the buyer’s name is often shared with similar schemers looking for easy targets, sometimes defrauding the same person repeatedly.

Examples of telemarketing fraud include:

“The Pigeon Drop”

The con artist tells the individual that he/she has found a large sum of money and is willing to split it if the person will make a “good faith” payment by withdrawing funds from his/her bank account. Often, a second con artist is involved, posing as a lawyer, banker, or some other trustworthy stranger.

“The Fake Accident Ploy”

The con artist gets the victim to wire or send money on the pretext that the person’s child or another relative is in the hospital and needs the money.

“Charity Scams”

Money is solicited for fake charities. This often occurs after natural disasters.

“Home Improvement Scams”

An elder agrees to have his driveway repaved, her roof re-roofed or any variety of other home improvements made at a reduced cost, because the construction company happens to be in the area doing similar repairs for others. Once a deposit is paid, the bogus construction workers disappear without doing the work, or after doing only the most superficial set-up while waiting for the check to clear.
6.While using the Internet is a great skill at any age, seniors are often easier targets for automated Internet scams that are ubiquitous on the web and email programs.

Pop-up browser windows simulating virus-scanning software will fool victims into either downloading a fake anti-virus program (at a substantial cost) or an actual virus that will open up whatever information is on the user’s computer to scammers.

Their unfamiliarity with the less visible aspects of browsing the web (firewalls and built-in virus protection, for example) make seniors especially susceptible to such traps.

One example includes:

Email/Phishing Scams

A senior receives email messages that appear to be from a legitimate company or institution, asking them to “update” or “verify” their personal information. A senior receives emails that appear to be from the IRS about a tax refund.
7.Because many seniors find themselves planning for retirement and managing their savings once they finish working, a number of investment schemes have been targeted at elders looking to safeguard their cash for their later years. From pyramid schemes like Bernie Madoff’s (which counted a number of senior citizens among its victims) to fables of a Nigerian prince looking for a partner to claim inheritance money, to complex financial products that many economists don’t even understand, investment schemes have long been a successful way to take advantage of older people.
8.Scammers often take advantage of the fact that many people above a certain age own their homes, a valuable asset that increases the potential dollar value of a certain scam. A particularly elaborate property tax scam in San Diego saw fraudsters sending personalized letters to property owners, apparently on behalf of the County Assessor’s Office. The letter, which looked official but contained only public information, identified the property’s assessed value and offered the homeowner a pricey course, that would result in the reduction of the assessed value of the property. With a lower assessment comes a lower tax burden. Unfortunately, the course was of little or no value, and reassessment on real property was highly unlikely.

Closely related, the reverse mortgage scam has mushroomed in recent years. With legitimate reverse mortgages increasing in frequency (more than 1,300% between 1999 and 2008), scammers are taking advantage of this new popularity. As opposed to official refinancing schemes, unsecured reverse mortgages can lead property owners to lose their homes when the perpetrators offer money or a free home elsewhere in exchange for signing over title to their property.
9.This simple scam is one that many are familiar with, and one capitalizes on the notion that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Here, scammers inform their mark that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes and need to make some sort of payment to unlock the supposed prize. Often, seniors will be sent a check that they deposit into their bank account, knowing that while it shows up in their account immediately, the bogus check will take a few days before it is rejected. During this time, the criminals quickly collect cash from the victim for “fees” or “taxes” on the prize, which they pocket. By the time the “prize check” bounces, the scammers have disappeared with the victim’s cash.
10.The Grandparent Scam is both simple and devious because it uses one of older adults’ most reliable assets, his or her heart. In this con, a scammer places a call to an older person and when he or she picks up the phone (often in the middle of the night), the scammer says something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds most like, the scammer “confirms” the fake identity. Once “in,” the fake grandchild asks for money to solve some unexpected financial problem (stranded in a foreign country, overdue rent, legal problems requiring an attorney, payment for car repairs, etc.), to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram. At the same time, the scam artist will beg the grandparent “please don’t tell my parents, they would kill me.” The sums from such a scam are likely to be in the hundreds, or thousands of dollars, and require very little planning or research research to pull off.

So - why should seniors be targeted more than others in these scams and cons? Because seniors are thought to have a significant amounts of ready money in their safes, bank accounts and homes.

Unfortunately many of these financial scams go unreported or can be difficult to prosecute. As a result, they are considered by many law enforcement agencies to be “low-risk” crime. However, many are quite devastating to older adults and can leave an elder in a very vulnerable position with little time to recoup his or her losses.

It isn’t only the wealthy seniors who are targeted in these scams. Many low-income older adults are also at risk of financial abuse, and many have suffered irreparable harm.

And sadly, it isn’t always strangers who perpetrate these crimes on the elders in our communities. In fact, over 90% of all reported elder abuse is committed by an older person’s own family member, most often their adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and others.

Learn about the scams that are targeting unsuspecting seniors. Keep your personal information protected and report to law enforcement any suspicious offer made to you, especially if it requires that you part with your money. Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, or if you are feeling pressured into making a quick decision about giving money to someone, recognize the red flags and just say “no”. Any legitimate business deal or opportunity will wait for a few days while you investigate the offer, but chances are, if it’s a con, the scammer will forget about you and move on to a more gullible and ready target.

See more by Googling NCOA ToP Ten Scams or going directly to the link at:

author: Stacey Wright


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