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Monmouth, IL 61462

Phone: 800-228-5993

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Serving Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Knox, McDonough, Mercer, Schuyler, Rock Island, and Warren Counties.

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Our elderly population is extremely vulnerable to being taken advantage of.  I am in the homes of clients regularly and across the board seniors complain to me about the mail they get that they do not understand and about phone calls they receive trying to get them to elicit monetary donations or purchases.  What the National Council on Aging calls “the crime of the 21st Century” is financial-related scams that target the elderly population, and that they are more prevalent than ever.  This is so scary to me because most of the seniors I see are very determined to manage their own financial affairs without assistance or oversight, so these crimes can go unmentioned until it is too late and the senior has lost all of their assets.  There is also the issue of health impairments like hearing loss and memory loss which make people more vulnerable to these scams.  Here are some tips to help avoid this happening to you or your loved one.


Families should continually remind their loved one that Medicare and the IRS will never call them asking them for personal information or payments of any kind.  Medicare and the IRS would correspond by mailings and even then you should allow someone to look over any paperwork you receive to be sure it is legitimate.  Medicare and IRS would not be seeking personal information like date of birth, social security or Medicare numbers because they already have this information.  If you do not have a family member or friend to help look over questionable mailings, contact your local senior center for assistance. They are up to date on any information that Medicare would be seeking, and would serve as a valuable resource.  


The Grandparent Scam is very common.  The caller will say “Hi, Grandma! Do you know who this is?” and the grandparent will guess one of her grandchildren. The caller then plays on this asking for financial assistance.  I have heard people say “it sounded just like my grandchild on the phone so I sent them the money they needed”.   If this happens to you, ask for a return phone number to call them back after you check on a few things or something to that effect.  If it is truly a relative they would have no problem letting you call them back.  If they tell you some incredible story as to why you can’t call them back, that is your clue to hang up the phone.  There is also an internet scam where a person hacks into your email account and sends emails to your contact lists stating they need financial help of some kind.  You should question everything and always take the time to explore and contact your family to inquire if a grandchild is truly in need of help.  


Sweepstakes scams are another major problem with the elderly.  It can become really exciting to think you have won money, and these sweepstakes target seniors through the mail requesting that you send in a certain amount of money to claim your big prize.  Once you send them money they continue to target you and also give your information to other mailing predators or telemarketers. The next thing you know you are completely overwhelmed with mailings and phone calls and can become obsessed with the thought of winning to try to get back what you have already paid them.  This can become a vicious cycle until your money is gone.  Legitimate sweepstake offers allow anyone to enter without any fee. You should never give your credit card or bank account information through the mail or through the telephone.  


If you have been taken advantage of or suspect you made a mistake by giving out money or personal information, don’t be ashamed.  Know that you are not the only one that gets lured and, most importantly, seek assistance before it is too late.  Reach out to a person you trust and let them help you.  Keep in mind you can call local police, and financial institutions.  In addition, sometimes adult protective services can offer assistance.  


Often, as our staff is in homes assisting with daily tasks or overseeing general health, they help identify when someone is being targeted.  In order to put a safeguard in place for yourself or your loved ones, let us help you add some eyes and ears in the home to help identify a problem and provide scheduled support on a regular basis.  It is harder for a criminal to target a person who receives the assistance they need to ward off any potential fraud.  If you can’t be the family member to do this, consider us at Western Illinois Home Health.  We are a full-service provider in your area.  Please call 1-800-228-5993 for a free assessment.  


Amanda Powell, BSW is a Senior Care Manager for Western Illinois Home Health Care


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April 2016

by Amanda Powell

Avoid Predatory Scams with These Helpful Tips