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"I need to speak with my lawyer": How seniors can throw off scammers

Posted at 4:48 PM, Apr 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-15 16:53:56-04

BALTIMORE — Scams are at an all-time high and older people continue to be a main target.

One in five caregivers reported that their loved one lost money to fraud and more than half noted a loss of $1,000 or more, according to an AARP survey.

Scammers use tactics to intentionally deceive older adults. They pretend to be government agencies, pressure victims to act quickly, and trick them into keeping the scheme a secret.

WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii recently received an email from a local caregiver whose mom was victimized.

The scammer claimed she'd won money, told her not to tell anyone, and to send money for taxes and fees. The woman’s 79-year-old mom mailed two checks totaling $13,500.

While her mom wanted to wait to see if the man was telling the truth, the family contacted Sofastaii, who instructed them to call the bank and cancel the checks. The bank stopped the checks before they could clear.

“And that's a really significant amount, especially to an older adult who is at a time in their life when they don't have as much time to financially recover from a scam,” said Amy Goyer, AARP’s Family and Caregiving expert.

The AARP continues to receive scam reports involving government impostors, callers demanding utility payments, or someone claiming to be a grandchild in need of urgent help.

Goyer recommends caregivers regularly discuss scams with their loved ones.

“Practice with your loved ones, role play. If you get a call about this, what're you going to say? And you can write up a refusal script for them. Put it by the phone. If you get a phone call, what you can always say is, 'I don't do business over the phone, if you're interested in doing business with me, send it to me through the mail,'” added Goyer.

She also recommends saving all important contacts to your loved one's phone.

“If they don't recognize the name on it, and you put their doctors, everybody in their phone, then tell them don't answer it, let it go to voicemail and then you can listen to it later and I can help you decide if something is legitimate,” Goyer said.

She stressed it's important not to act too quickly. Take some time to vet the caller and what they’re saying.

“Say to them on the phone, ‘I need to discuss all my business with my lawyer.’ They're probably not going to call you back,” said Goyer.

With most scams, it is very difficult to recover money, especially if the victim used something other than a credit card. And never send payment via gift card or cryptocurrency.

Below are some important resources for caregivers provided by AARP: