CLEARFIELD – Now that summer appears to be here to stay, some are looking forward to taking a bike ride or enjoying a little sun. Others, though, are preparing to find targets in the warmer weather.
Every year, news organizations write about so-called summer scams from driveway paving ploys to re-roofing rip-offs and mock meter-readers to counterfeit care providers. What people need to know, according to Jodie Yarger, director of Long Term Care and Protective Services at the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging Inc., is how to protect themselves.
The sad truth, Yarger said, is “once people are targeted, they tend to be victims again.”
So how can people – both young and old – keep on the lookout for swindlers?
Yarger said people should ask questions.
She said if a member of the CCAAA is visiting an elderly county resident, they generally notify the person of the impending visit. If a representative visits without an appointment, Yarger said the person should call the CCAAA to verify the person’s identity and employment with the CCAAA.
“If they’re suspicious, all you need to do is call,” she said.
The same would apply for utility workers, such as water, electric or television, visiting the home of anyone – elderly or not.
“Their employer should be able to verify that they are supposed to be there.”
Yarger also advised that if things don’t “feel right,” call 911 for assistance.
She said she has seen many scams in which a scammer falsely identifies themselves as being from a certain company or organization just to engage the person in a conversation. Another person will then enter the home undetected and take money, belongings or prescription medication.
“That’s started to creep up as being the most reported thing we’re seeing,” Yarger said of the theft of narcotic drugs.
Yarger also advised those to be cautious when picking up their prescription at the pharmacy. “They should be cautious and aware of who knows what is in their bag.”
Everyone, she said, can help to make sure that elderly people do not fall victim to these or similar crimes.
“Just checking on your older neighbor is the best thing you can do,” Yarger said, noting that in the warmer months, people tend to be outside more often.
Just last year, Yarger said the protective services arm of CCAAA received more than 400 reports. Many of those concerned financial exploitation of the elderly by relatives.
Yarger advised any Clearfield County senior who believes he or she could be being exploited or potentially scammed to call 800-233-0249 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Our whole goal here is to keep people at home safely for as long as they can remain there,” she said.
For more on con artists and scams, read this release from the state police.