Senior Scams on The Rise During Pandemic: How to Protect Your Loved Ones

Jenkintown insurance broker says coronavirus pandemic has given scammers a new angle to target senior citizens

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Myra Brown knew something was wrong when a stranger called her mother, asking for information about her medical coverage.

Myra Brown is the primary caregiver of her 81-year-old mother. She sees her every day at her Point Breeze home, and is in charge of her affairs. If anyone wants to reach her mother, they know to contact Brown first.

But this time, that didn’t happen.

“The person told her, ‘you’re at risk for COVID-19 and we want to increase your insurance coverage.’ Thankfully, mom told the person to call me.”

Brown didn’t get a call. So, she found the person’s phone number on her mother’s caller ID and called back. What happened next didn’t surprise her.

“It was an unlisted number. It wasn’t even attached to a company.”

Brown’s grateful her mother didn’t share her personal information during the phone conversation. She thinks her mother avoided a scam.   

Toosdhi Perry, who owns TNP Insurance Group in Jenkintown, said that’s probably right.

“It’s a scary time, and seniors, since they’ve been told are more vulnerable to getting the coronavirus, are staying home. Scammers know that, so they call them and try to get their information,” said Perry.

Perry primarily works with senior citizens and helps them obtain benefits and affordable insurance plans, depending on their income. But in recent weeks, more of her clients have called her with similar complaints.

“They’re getting calls from people claiming to be with the IRS, others call saying their insurance companies didn’t get their premium payments. Others are getting calls saying they can add to their insurance plan to make sure they’re covered if they get the coronavirus.”

Perry said her clients were asked for their banking, insurance and other personal information. She advised them to notify their banks or other agencies handling their personal information.

Perry said seniors need to be on alert for fraud.

“I would advise that seniors don’t answer phones from people they don’t know. If someone says they’re from an insurance company, they should take a message, write down their name and number and get someone they trust to call that number back.”

That’s what Brown did for her mother. She said people who have elderly loved ones should also check in with them more often.

“I don’t want anyone getting duped or harassed, and seniors are scared,” said Brown.

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging said anyone who suspects fraud or abuse against a senior citizen should report it to their local police department or the state Attorney General’s Office at: (800) 441-2555.

A spokesperson with the department said seniors can also avoid getting calls from telemarketers by getting their number on the Do Not Call List at: (888) 777-3406.

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