It's an all-too-typical scenario when a senior citizen answers the phone:
A widower since last July, the gentleman has been retired many years but still lives independently in his home. He uses a walker to get around the house, but he's really fine, all things considered.
He still can prepare his own meals. His daughter checks on him several times a week, and a neighbor comes by now and then. He reads the newspaper and watches TV, or sits on the porch on nice days viewing the birds in his feeder. He's content and usually walks to church on Sundays.
Today the phone rings.
"What? Who's that?"
"Grandpa - don't you know your own grandson's voice?"
"Is that Brian?"
"Yeah, Brian. That's right. How are you, Grandpa?"
"Oh, doin' fine. How are you?"
"Well, not so good. I wrecked my car and I need help."
"Oh, I'm sorry. What do you need?"
"I'm at the car repair shop. They have to have $800 today or I can't get my car back. And I've got to get to work or I'm going to lose my job. I just don't know what to do."
"Oh, you don't say."
"But if you could help me out, I could pay you back on Friday when I get my paycheck."
"Oh, I see. Well, what can I do?"
"I'll put the man here on the phone and you can give him your credit card number."
"Oh, okay -"
One more unsuspecting elderly citizen just got scammed.
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), "Financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they're now considered 'the crime of the 21st century.' Why? Because seniors are thought to have a significant amount of money sitting in their accounts."
Money scams also often go unreported or can be difficult to prosecute, so they're considered a "low-risk" crime by the scammers. Yet they can be ruinous for older adults, leaving them in a vulnerable spot with little time to recoup their losses, the NCOA reports. The crime hits both low-income and higher-income older people. And it's not always strangers who perpetrate these crimes. Over 90% of all reported elder abuse is committed by an older person's own family member, most often the adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and others.
CrimeStoppers of Memphis and Shelby County has a program called SeniorBsafe, which operates a phone line the elderly can call if they are afraid or concerned about something and unsure whom to report their concern to. That includes questions about bewildering or suspicious phone calls. The line is 525-5122. CrimeStoppers will make certain the information is passed to the right authority or agency for help.
The hot line is not for emergencies. Always call 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency. For more information about SeniorBsafe,