Four Ways to Protect Seniors from Winter Home Repair Fraud

~ Home Helpers Offers Advice on How to Spot Scammers ~

Winter’s blizzards, hail and ice storms can cause significant damage to the exterior of homes, leaving elderly residents vulnerable to scam artists who conveniently appear on the doorstep offering to fix the roof, patch cracks in the driveway and trim limbs from damaged trees.

“Often, these types of scams go unreported. People are embarrassed that they were duped, or they don’t think the police will be able to help,” says Emma Dickison, President of Home Helpers. “These types of scams are a form of elder abuse, so we should all keep an eye out for the seniors in our communities.”

Protect yourself and your loved ones from door-to-door scammers with the following four simple guidelines:

  • Acknowledge the risk. Women age 75 and older and people with cognitive impairment are twice as likely to be scammed or swindled; however, everyone is at risk, regardless of gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or ZIP code.
  • Ask questions and take notes. Especially if someone shows up unsolicited, ask for identification, proof of employment, insurance information, etc. If they begin to act nervous or frustrated, this may indicate something is awry. Always jot down their name, a description, the date and time, and the make, model and license-plate number of their vehicle.
  • Act rationally, not emotionally. People who try to manipulate older adults tend to create a sense of urgency. Instead of acting immediately, ask them for their contact information so you can reach out to them after you’ve had a chance to evaluate your options.
  • Have the confidence to say NO! If a home repair specialist knocks on your front door offering services at an incredible rate right after a storm, it may not be a coincidence. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

If you suspect someone is being financially abused, contact the Adult Protective Services in your state or county. You may be the person’s only hope for help.

National Adult Protective Services Association: Visit http://www.napsa-now.org/get-help/help-in-your-area/ for a list of agencies and phone numbers by state.
National Committee for Preventing Elder Abuse:  www.preventelderabuse.org

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