Lifestyles over 50 Finance & Money
Why do I keep getting calls at all hours of the day? I’m on the Do Not Call List. Why doesn’t that help? We hear these complaints from older adults and their families when they call to report a healthcare or consumer fraud scam. In addition to being a near-constant annoyance, phone solicitations are a main conduit through which scammers reach their targets. According to a 2020 report from Truecaller, about 56 million Americans received some type of unwanted call. Approximately $19.7 billion were lost to phone scams in the U.S. This is a growing trend — and according to telecom experts, this trend shows no signs of diminishing any time soon.
The safest way to avoid falling for a telephone scam is to simply not answer the phone. However, many older adults live alone and look forward to calls from friends and family. Older adults also are more likely to be waiting for return calls from medical providers. Some older adults have jobs that require them to answer unknown callers. Other folks with cognitive impairments may want to answer any call they receive. Finally, many older adults do not have phones that display the incoming number. Clearly, not picking up the phone is impractical for many elders.
Fortunately, there is a number of tools available to reduce the volume of calls. Identify the type of phone you have (mobile, land line, or Voice over Internet Protocol), and your service provider (Verizon, Comcast, etc.). This will determine what options exist. For example, there are apps for mobile phones that block unwanted calls, and devices that display incoming calls on a land line. Some service providers offer their customers call blocking services. For additional guidance, please see the article< "How to Stop Unwanted Calls" by the FTC (consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-stop-unwanted-calls) for a comprehensive discussion of the topic and available resources.
Keep in mind that no solution will block all unwanted calls. When in doubt, let the call go to voicemail. And, if you pick up and it’s an unwanted call, just hang up! Don’t engage with the caller. As we say at the PA-SMP, sometimes it's Shrewd to be Rude. For more information, call the PA SMP at CARIE at 1-800-356-3606 or visit carie.org. Help is free and confidential.
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