Last week we talked about two scams that operated over the telephone. In those cases a senior can simply hang up but what happens when someone arrives at the elderly person’s home. Often a scammer will present themself as a public utility inspector or a even a person in need. The homeowner will receive a knock on the front door and be confronted by two people. They identify themselves as
inspectors for the utility or gas company. They ask for entry into the senior’s home and often they will flash an ID card very quickly. So quickly that the senior will barely have time to read it. Once inside, one person will ask to be directed to the gas meter or the electrical panel and the other person will ask to use a washroom or the telephone. While the senior is kept busy, the scammer will be stealing. It could be a purse, a wallet or even a bottle of medication. Sometimes the theft is discovered quickly but often the scammer is more subtle and even if they don’t take anything they could be casing the seniors house for a future robbery.
This is a very intimidating situation for an elderly person. But if the senior is prepared they can avoid being victimized in this way.
- ALWAYS be very cautious and careful when answering the door especially if there is more than one person there.
- ALWAYS demand identification and ask the person to wait outside while you check it. If you have any doubt, hand it back to them, and close the door and lock it immediately.
- DO NOT LET THEM IN! Call the utility company to confirm the reason for this visit. If they are legitimate inspectors, they will wait. If they aren’t, they’ll leave in a big hurry.
Recently in Langley, an old scam has resurfaced. This one is particularly difficult to deal with because, like the grandchild in trouble scam it tugs at the heartstrings of the elderly person. The scammer comes to the door with a ‘tale of woe’. They say that they need hot water to warm their baby’s bottle or they need to warm up their baby’s food in your microwave. Police are warning that under no circumstances should the senior allow this person entry. Another version is a person or persons will ask for water for a leaking radiator. Beware of these wolves in sheep’s clothing because once inside they could steal the senior’s wallet or purse. Now the senior must cancel credit cards, renew their driver’s license and care cards and more. Worst of all now the elder is at risk for Identity theft. We will discuss this next week. Until then, make sure that you and your elderly parents don’t open the door to strangers. Crooks know that elderly people and seniors are vulnerable so be savvy and be safe!
Lilianne Fuller, Relationship Manager at B Cared For Services