Categorized | Technology

Scams targeting seniors

“Our magazine company is dedicated to helping young people like me turn our lives around and stay off the streets. Your $75 subscription will help me support my two young babies.” Scam.

“Hi, Bubbie. Hey, Zayde. I’m in trouble, but please don’t tell anyone. The cops arrested me and I didn’t do anything. I need $1,000 to post bail. I need you to wire me money.” Fraud.

Every year hucksters bilk almost $3 billion from older Americans, according to Shalom Plotkin, owner, Right at Home Cleveland East. 

The FBI notes that older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t realize they’ve been taken advantage of financially or they fear their mental capacity will be questioned by relatives. When elders do report a crime, the suspected criminals count on seniors’ aging memory to affect their recollection of the details.

Plotkin points out common fraud schemes against seniors, including the following:

Counterfeit tech support

A growing consumer scam involves callers who pretend to be representatives from well-known technology companies like Microsoft and Apple and con people into following directions to “remove viruses.” In the process, they install malware on the computer to steal passwords and personal information. The tech bandits then charge fees to repair the damage or give back your valuable data. Every device needs continually updated virus protection.

Investment / time shares

Investment scams like Bernie Madoff’s financial pyramid scheme often target older adults seeking more income. Other hucksters promise to resell time-shares, but first ask for money to front title fees and administrative costs. And if you’ve been ripped off financially, some criminals will even plot a recovery or reload scam posing as a law enforcement officer assigned to help you get your money back – for a fee, of course.

How to help protect seniors from scams

Plotkin suggests a number of steps to help safeguard seniors from scam bullies:

Make sure your senior’s phone has caller ID and he/she knows how to screen unsolicited calls. 

Become an authorized person on your senior’s checking account and/or the second signature on the elder’s checkbook.

Instruct seniors to never hand over medical ID cards or read off Social Security, Medicare or health insurance numbers to anyone they do not trust.

Direct elders to research any charity that asks for a donation by looking them up on

The IRS will mail several notice letters and won’t just call or drop by. Only pay the U.S. Treasury.

If someone is a victim of a scam, encourage them to report the incident to the police and Cuyahoga County’s Adult Protective Services at 216-420-6700.

About Right at Home

Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companionship and personal care and assistance to seniors and adults with disabilities who want to continue to live independently. The Plotkin family directly employs and supervises all caregiving staff, each of whom is thoroughly screened, trained and bonded / insured prior to entering a client’s home. 

For more information, contact Right at Home at 216-752-2222, or by email at

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