No matter where you live, Mother Nature can throw some fierce winter weather your way. Unfortunately, the aftermath can be more severe than the storm itself, especially for the elderly.
Blizzards, hail and ice storms can cause significant damage to the exterior of homes, leaving 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.
Due to aging and physical limitations, many seniors are not able to tackle these clean-up projects themselves. This, paired with a trusting nature, makes mature individuals easy targets for home repair fraud.
Don’t fall victim to this scam! Protect yourself or your loved one by following these 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!
Keep an eye out for your elderly loved ones and neighbors this winter. Due to embarrassment or fear of retaliation, many seniors never report their suspicions or an incident of being scammed.
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