Phone Scams: Social Security, Grandchildren & Donations

by Janet Simpson Benvenuti

While we’re all distracted by the coronavirus, here’s a gentle warning to remind your now housebound parents and grandparents about telephone scams. Recently the National Council on Aging reported the top three telephone scams for elders:

Social Security Spoofing Calls. In this scam, the caller may spoof the SSI hotline so caller ID looks legitimate, and then either threaten the listener or ask for help activating a suspended social security number. During the pandemic, Social Security is continuing to issue checks despite scammers indicating otherwise.

The Grandparent Scam. In this scam, the caller indicates they’re a grandchild in an accident or legal trouble and ask for cash or gift cards.

Donations following Natural Disasters. This scam takes advantage of donations that follow a natural disaster – or a pandemic – with the caller impersonating charities asking for money or, if the listener is in the area impacted, offering help.

If your family wants to donate to organizations during this time of crisis, use a site like Charity Navigator to check on their validity.

Recently I asked a class full of tech-savvy business leaders for guidance on how best to block access from telemarketers and spammers. Two companies were mentioned: Ooma, a home phone service that provides multiple ways to block spam calls and Nomorobo although online reviews have been mixed. I’ve attached a useful video from The Verge about robocalls and how to stop them.

Share what works for you and your family.

Family Caregiver Resources Regarding the Coronavirus

by Janet Simpson Benvenuti

The recent outbreak of the coronavirus reminds us how interconnected we are globally and the importance of protecting our most vulnerable family members and friends. We encourage you to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control about hand washing and preventative actions and listen to the news for updates in your local community.

If you are able, reach out to your older neighbors and offer to grocery shop for them. Many elders do not use delivery services like Instacart and may be uncomfortable risking exposure to the virus by shopping.

For updates about the coronavirus globally, healthcare and other professionals find the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security trustworthy. You can register for their daily updates here.

Listen to geriatrician Dr. Leslie Kernisan’s podcast about the coronavirus and how best to protect our aging parents and ourselves.

Read the AARP’s guidance about limiting access to assisted living and skilled nursing homes.

Join the private Facebook group Working Daughter where you’ll find emotional support from thousands of women and men who are supporting their aging parents.

Together, we’ll navigate this journey. You’re not alone.