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Police Warn about Scammers Targeting Seniors

Authorities are warning vulnerable seniors about phone scammers, who call and claim to be police officers, IRS agents and other government officials. One woman received a call just days after her husband died and his obituary was published in a local newspaper, reports Newsday in the article “Nassau, Suffolk police warn of phone scammers posing as officials.”

She was told that her grandson had been arrested and charged with possession of illegal drugs. To get him out of prison, the caller directed her to buy $8,000 in gift cards from a national electronics store. Frightened, the woman did as she was instructed, and gave the man the personal identification numbers on the cards when the man called her back.

Only afterwards did she realize that the man had gotten her name and her grandson’s name from her husband’s obituary. Embarrassed by her failure to realize it was a scam, she decided to speak out in the hopes it would prevent another vulnerable senior from falling victim.

Seniors are being warned to be wary of these kinds of con artists. Unfortunately, the scams are successful and that’s why they continue. Swindlers typically call victims and tell them they must take action immediately, or something very bad will happen. They sound like they mean business, and often the phone numbers that appear on the screen seem to be from a government agency. The phone numbers have been “spoofed”—altered to appear to come from a legitimate place. However, it’s all a scam.

Authorities say that many victims who are targeted are elderly, because they may not be aware of how much detailed information can now be obtained by strangers. When the caller uses their name, or names of other family members, the victim believes the call is from a legitimate agency.

However, here’s a key point: No government agency calls to demand payment in gift cards.

If the caller says they are calling from the local police station, hang up, call the local precinct to verify if the caller really works there. The same goes for utility companies or any other company allegedly threatening to turn off services. You should also note that the IRS never makes phone calls about overdue tax bills.

Anyone who receives such a call, regardless of their age, should immediately hang up.

Reference: Newsday (Jan. 4, 2019) “Nassau, Suffolk police warn of phone scammers posing as officials”

Why You Should Have an Advance Directive

An advance directive is a legal document that states a person’s preferences for medical treatment and medical decision-making, reports Valley News in an informative article titled “Advance Directives Provide Clear Guidance for Care.”

There are two components that make up an advance directive: a durable power of attorney and a treatment preferences section.

The durable power of attorney for health care allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions, if you lack the capacity to make those decisions for yourself.

The treatment preference, which is sometimes referred to as a living will, lets you specify what kind of treatment you would want in a difficult circumstance. Treatment and care preferences usually focus on what you would want at the end of life or if you were in a permanently unconscious state. There are other preferences that can be expressed, including pain control, blood transfusions, mental health care and spiritual care. Another preference: who should—and should not—be involved in discussions about treatment.

Most people want to express their wishes to avoid aggressive measures being taken to extend their lives, when the end result will be suffering and a delay of their passing. Others chose to avoid the financial burdens that may or may not result in any kind of change in their health or the quality of their life.

Some have these documents prepared to make it clear that they want to spend their final months, weeks or days at home with loved ones with care only to relieve pain or care, so they can be conscious and able to speak with those around them.

Advance directives are a blessing to loved ones since they do not have to make hard choices in a crisis situation. They know what their aging parent or spouses wishes.

It’s important to choose the person you want to be responsible for your care well in advance. Make sure it’s someone you trust, who knows you well and will be able to make hard decisions in a highly emotional time. They’ll also have to be able to communicate with your doctors and family members.

These documents are bound by the laws of your state, so speak with an estate planning attorney who practices law in your state of residence. They’ll be able to prepare these documents on your behalf, along with a will and other estate planning documents.

Reference: Valley News (Sep. 1, 2018) “Advance Directives Provide Clear Guidance for Care”