Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone scams?

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Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone scams?

Postby Browser » Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:12 pm

My elderly mother has succumbed to the phone scam game. I don't know what happens to the senior brain, so that a formerly rational person cannot seem to understand that people calling with cash prizes, lottery winnings, and the like are crooks. Was at her home and just received a call from a "U.S. Customs agent" that I forced her to let go to the answering machine. Then I googled the number that was left for her to call: 888-556-4199 and found that others had posted scam alerts on it - The deal was that you had supposedly won a large sum of money from a foreign source and had to send a fee to U.S. Customs so the cash could be released. I suppose she might have been suckered in had I not been here. She gets dozens and dozens of similar calls. We've locked up her funds now so she can't send money, but that doesn't stop the calls flowing in daily. She is frustrated and upset that she can't get at her money so she can claim her prizes, and it's driving us completely nuts. I know there's nothing I can do short of disconnecting the phone and tying her up, but was hoping that some other desperate souls out there might have some clever ideas I haven't thought of to get rid of these pests and bring back some peace. Welcome any input.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby tractorguy » Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:38 pm

Have you thought about changing her phone number and making it unlisted? The number she has is obviously on a list that is being shared by these scam artists. If you give her a new, unlisted number, it will take her a while to start getting calls. If you keep her from sending money (control her credit card and ability to write checks) then the new number won't make it on to a list.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby VictoriaF » Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:39 pm

People who succumb to such calls become primary target to all other scamers, because they sell their victim lists to one another. You can get for your mother a new phone line with an unlisted number that would be known only to you, her doctors and closest family and friends. You can then set up forwarding from the current telephone to your own phone and try to annoy or report the scamers.

[I wrote this before I saw tractorguy's message; we have similar ideas.]

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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby livesoft » Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:41 pm

My mother-in-law had this taped in large numbers to her phone handset: "JUST SAY NO!"
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Mill » Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:44 pm

I dont think you can get rid of these pests, and if you can its not going to be easy. The scammers even make money selling "potential client" phone numbers to other scam organizations. I think it would be an exercise in futility to try to keep warding them off, especially if your mom is susceptible to this garbage, and you cant be there 24/7 to intervene.

I would give mom a new cell phone (as a present), teach her how to use it, sell her on the convenience of it, add her to your family cell phone plan, and disconnect her current phone.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Quickfoot » Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:01 pm

It's easy and basically free (with the exception of any fee there might be to change her number and have it unlisted).

#1 Change her phone number and make it not listed.
#2 Sign up for google voice (free), the google voice number is the one she will give out
#3 Add anyone that should be calling her to the contacts list friends / family and set the preferences to allow google voice to ring her phone
#4 Add your phone number as an additional number, do not have it ring for the friends /family group.
#5 Set the default group to have google voice ring your phone, if it's someone that should have telephone access to her add them to her address book in google voice.

The end result of this is only people in her address book can call her, if anyone else calls your phone will ring instead.
Last edited by Quickfoot on Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Christine_NM » Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:03 pm

Browser -

Have you registered her phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry? This is very effective.

See: https://www.donotcall.gov/

If a call comes through anyway, tell Mom not to listen but instead to ask if they have a "do not call" list. Mostly the caller will say yes, and she can tell the person nicely that she'd appreciate it if this number would be added to it, along with a pleasant thank-you for doing something that's really helpful to her. It's the only sincere thank-you the telemarketer will get all day.

The real scumbags will just hang up the minute they hear "do not call list".

BTW, I once asked the phone company about changing numbers. They said basically that there are no new numbers, and some numbers come with serious history like creditors, collection agencies and on lists much worse than sales calls. So if the current number only has unsolicitied sales calls, count yourself lucky and keep the number.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Quickfoot » Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:19 pm

DoNotCall will help with real businesses and spam calling, it will not help with fraud because fraudsters don't follow the laws anyway and don't have a fixed place of business or any way to locate them to punish them for violating do not call.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby dm200 » Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:21 pm

So far at least, phone scams seem less likely for cell phone numbers, Maybe (not sure) cancelling the land line (with no forwarding #) and going to a cell phone might help.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby countdown » Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:22 pm

In our case, we ultimately forwarded her incoming calls to us.
She can still call out on land line, and has a cell phone too.
All friends and family now call her cell. Changing number doesn't really help.
DNC lists don't help....the scammers don't care. Many are from out of the country. A slew in our case are recently from Jamaica. They are rabid and relentless.

Unfortunately, this is can be one of the first symptoms of underlying dementia. A loved one has been duped, believes they have won lots of money, and continues to send money to the fraudsters.
In our family member's case, it was but one symptom in the multiple symptoms leading to a probable Alzheimers diagnosis.

Best wishes to you. It's a rough road.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Flobes » Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:28 pm

She may likely be very reluctant to change her phone number, especially if it's been hers for a while.

Here's my suggestion so she can keep her current number and you can help her not take scam or unwanted calls:
* Get caller ID on the number
* Buy a phone that has both talking caller ID and call blocking functions
* Spend a half hour and program the new phone with all the (familiar) names and numbers that routinely call her
* Explain to her she should only answer the phone when it announces someone she knows
* Whenever you're visiting, read the caller ID call list, check the numbers, call block the "junk" and program new "friendly" numbers.
Over time, you will be able to protect her not only from scams, but also from politicians, PACs, charities, and those not subject to the "Do Not Call" list

Added bonus: She will probably really enjoy a phone that announces "Cousin Betty" as loudly as she wants.

BTW I've done this, unwilling to give up a phone number I've had for nearly 40 years when I somehow got onto the scam lists. At first I thought the announcing would be an annoyance once the amusement factor wore off; but I love not having to reach for the phone unless it's a friendly call. Some days, when I check just for grins, I've received 5 blocked calls. I am relentless about entering the numbers on both the federal and my state's Do Not Call websites, but it's a futile exercise.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby countdown » Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:33 pm

By the way, Browser, our loved one had the same 'customs' agent calls for months. They hounded her in tandem, including wanting her to go to the airport to claim her money! They usually set up scam 'lawyers' too to act in concert with them and try to give an air of credibility. The 'winner' has to call the lawyer to verify their info: social, birthdate,...unbelieveable.
The calls were coming from east coast area codes.

This is a HUGE market.

She received (and still does although less by attrition since no responses anymore) postmarks of solicitation from Beijing and Amsterdam, after over a year of US postmarks from these vultures.
They use phone and mail.
Forward her mail too. Be sure to get DPOA now.
I have been sickened by the fraud I have seen perpetrated against the impaired elderly since it became 'person'.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby ResearchMed » Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:09 pm

Quickfoot wrote:DoNotCall will help with real businesses and spam calling, it will not help with fraud because fraudsters don't follow the laws anyway and don't have a fixed place of business or any way to locate them to punish them for violating do not call.


Yes, THIS is the real problem.

The very people who you least want to call you are the ones most likely to completely ignore any legal niceties.

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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Browser » Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:40 pm

Thanks for the suggestions, and I'm hoping that more will chime in. Very helpful.

She does have caller ID on the phone, but she doesn't use it effectively anymore. She thinks she is getting some important call or another about some lottery prize or other jackpot she might have won so she answers anything nowadays. I like Flobes idea of looking for a phone with talking ID and call blocking that I might be able to set up as suggested. However, if I understand this correctly, she might have some legitimate calls blocked that come from unexpected or overlooked callers that I haven't allowed. I'll have to look into that further.

She is on the DoNotCall registry but that's apparently worthless to screen these predators as others have commented.

I'm becoming familiar with google voice and will have to look into that as well. If I get her a new unlisted number I can also set up a GV number for her. The only shortcoming there is that I think she is lured into returning scam calls, such as the one today that went to her answering machine, and of course her real phone number is divulged as a live fish to the trolling scammers when she does this.

The google voice app on my smartphone has the nice capability of allowing you to use your GV number as your caller ID number, but I don't think you can do this with your landline phone. I called the "U.S. Customs" agent back using my GV number to protect my real number. I was obviously talking to some individual at the other end and not a government official. She answered "hello", which didn't exactly sound professional and there was an absence of the call routing you'd expect from a government office. She said I was talking to U.S. Customs Fraud Investigation -- ironic eh? I pulled her chain for awhile and then hung up.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Gnirk » Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:55 pm

It is so heartbreaking when our parents become victims of scammers. Often, our aging parents no longer have the ability to reason things through.

I would definitely change her phone number, to an unlisted number. Advise only relatives and close friends of her new number. Tell her a therapeutic fib if necessary about why the has a new phone number.
Block her new number from appearing on other's caller id's.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Browser » Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:55 pm

countdown wrote:By the way, Browser, our loved one had the same 'customs' agent calls for months. They hounded her in tandem, including wanting her to go to the airport to claim her money! They usually set up scam 'lawyers' too to act in concert with them and try to give an air of credibility. The 'winner' has to call the lawyer to verify their info: social, birthdate,...unbelieveable.
The calls were coming from east coast area codes.

This is a HUGE market.

She received (and still does although less by attrition since no responses anymore) postmarks of solicitation from Beijing and Amsterdam, after over a year of US postmarks from these vultures.
They use phone and mail.
Forward her mail too. Be sure to get DPOA now.
I have been sickened by the fraud I have seen perpetrated against the impaired elderly since it became 'person'.

I could not agree more. This is fraud on a gigantic scale aimed at the most vulnerable among us. It is absolutely relentless and merciless. And the scams can be quite elaborate and convincing, as you describe. Old Folks are just easy targets -- some of this stuff might even sucker in the more able among us. I find it difficult to believe there are so many predators without a conscience who are out there, and it doesn't do much to make one feel optimistic about society. The other night, I received a desperate call from my sister who was at my mother's place with call after call coming in through the night. As a result, I've gotten a phone line in-line connector that she can use to unplug the phone line when necessary instead of simply taking it off the hook. The problem with this solution is that then my mother is unreachable on the phone by anyone trying to check up on her.

I hadn't thought of forwarding her mail. Most of what she gets is junk scam mail anyway and most of the rest is stuff I should probably be handling anyway. She had her mail held for about 6 weeks and there were boxloads when she returned. BTW, what is DPOA?
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby donall » Thu Jun 27, 2013 5:01 pm

I think there have been some excellent ideas presented concerning cell phones and programing phones. Limiting credit cards is very important, as without a number, nothing can be bought or money sent. Unfortunately there are so many scams out there that I have found that visiting and calling more often works the best. Your parent enjoys the visits and is not as lonely and is less likely to want to talk to someone on the phone. Go through her/his mail and throw out the "charities." Make sure you substitute a local church, organization, or legitimate charity so the parent feels like they are doing good.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Epsilon Delta » Thu Jun 27, 2013 5:18 pm

Browser wrote:BTW, what is DPOA?

Durable Power of Attorney.

A normal Power of Attorney becomes void if the principle becomes incompetent so can't be used to handle the affairs of somebody who is incompetent. A DPOA survives incompetence so can be used in that situation.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby mike143 » Thu Jun 27, 2013 5:25 pm

Caller ID and if she doesn't recognize the caller don't answer.

Another option if she have Internet is a VoIP service that you can build a white list and reject all other calls.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Browser » Thu Jun 27, 2013 5:26 pm

Epsilon Delta wrote:
Browser wrote:BTW, what is DPOA?

Durable Power of Attorney.

A normal Power of Attorney becomes void if the principle becomes incompetent so can't be used to handle the affairs of somebody who is incompetent. A DPOA survives incompetence so can be used in that situation.

Thanks. Yes, I do have that and it has been quite helpful in controlling her financial affairs.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby roymeo » Thu Jun 27, 2013 7:06 pm

The suggestions to not answer if she doesn't recognize the number don't sound like they're an option.

Besides, I know who "U.S. Customs" is. That's just as important as when "The IRS" called me to tell me I better send them some money. And when "Your Bank" called about that bounced check and "{local phone/utility company name here}" warned me to send in a money order.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby frugaltype » Thu Jun 27, 2013 7:20 pm

[OT comments removed by admin LadyGeek]

I get one to two of these phone calls a day nowadays.

The problem with a phone white list, unlike with email, is that unrecognized numbers that are legitimate do come in with relative frequency. Particularly with an older person, doctors' offices are often calling from their back office line or the doctor from a blocked home number.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Default User BR » Thu Jun 27, 2013 7:25 pm

frugaltype wrote:I still don't understand why a country with surveillance apparatchiks who know every time we breathe can't find these people, regardless of where they're located, and do something appropriate.

Next time they call, say, "Hey NSA! Can you believe this guy?"


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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby widestance » Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:45 pm

Get her a cell phone.
Got my grandma one and she can't figure it out :D
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby katsmeow » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:18 am

You haven't mentioned how old your mother is or her overall functioning. However, I don't think that just being elderly would make someone prone to accept this kind of thing, particularly if she hasn't been unduly credulous in the past. The point is that you might want to have her evaluated for dementia and if that is the issue, then remove from her any ability at all for her to obtain money to send to these people. You might also consider a credit freeze if she is prone to giving away her confidential information.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Mitchell777 » Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:50 am

Last evening my mother had 3 calls. One from these guys that I believe are calling from India and quickly throw out the word "Microsoft". Had several of these calls. They are attempting to get people to log onto their computers while on the phone with them. The second was this robo call that makes it sound like they have a Lifeline type order waiting for an you. Elderly people can be confused depending on their age and mental state. The last was the police benevolent assn asking for donations. This one is legit yet not sure why they call at least 2X a year. She feels she should give, and she does, so they keep calling yet her financial situation is not nearly as good as those calling. I'm most worried about the first two because they are scams and they are not trying to get a small donation nor are they doing any good for anyone.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby frugaltype » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:06 am

Mitchell777 wrote:Last evening my mother had 3 calls. One from these guys that I believe are calling from India and quickly throw out the word "Microsoft". Had several of these calls. They are attempting to get people to log onto their computers while on the phone with them. The second was this robo call that makes it sound like they have a Lifeline type order waiting for an you. Elderly people can be confused depending on their age and mental state. The last was the police benevolent assn asking for donations. This one is legit yet not sure why they call at least 2X a year. She feels she should give, and she does, so they keep calling yet her financial situation is not nearly as good as those calling. I'm most worried about the first two because they are scams and they are not trying to get a small donation nor are they doing any good for anyone.


I'm not sure that those police benevolent associations and the others, that actually exist, are legitimate in any real sense. I have read that the fundraising companies making the phone calls get 95+% of the donations, not the charity. I would find out what percentage of donations actually go to the group calling your Mom and letting her know if it's out of whack.

I never give a cent to any charity that calls me on the phone, unless I have a longstanding relationship with them, and then if I do contribute as a result of the phone call, I do it via their known website or writing a check and mailing it to their known address.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby ResearchMed » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:34 am

frugaltype wrote:
Mitchell777 wrote:Last evening my mother had 3 calls. One from these guys that I believe are calling from India and quickly throw out the word "Microsoft". Had several of these calls. They are attempting to get people to log onto their computers while on the phone with them. The second was this robo call that makes it sound like they have a Lifeline type order waiting for an you. Elderly people can be confused depending on their age and mental state. The last was the police benevolent assn asking for donations. This one is legit yet not sure why they call at least 2X a year. She feels she should give, and she does, so they keep calling yet her financial situation is not nearly as good as those calling. I'm most worried about the first two because they are scams and they are not trying to get a small donation nor are they doing any good for anyone.


I'm not sure that those police benevolent associations and the others, that actually exist, are legitimate in any real sense. I have read that the fundraising companies making the phone calls get 95+% of the donations, not the charity. I would find out what percentage of donations actually go to the group calling your Mom and letting her know if it's out of whack.

I never give a cent to any charity that calls me on the phone, unless I have a longstanding relationship with them, and then if I do contribute as a result of the phone call, I do it via their known website or writing a check and mailing it to their known address.


One of the people posting above mentioned having worked at a place that did calls like this, and kept the vast majority of the money.

I called the Police Department (non-emergency line!) once about one of these calls, because I wanted to complain about the tone, which was more than vaguely threatening. The implication was intended to be "if you don't donate money, we - your local Police Dept - might not be there if you need us". That sounded either fishy (scam) or just downright wrong.

The PD stated that they had received other calls about this, but not about the threatening nature, which they took very seriously, but who knows what they could do?
That's because the PD NEVER HEARD OF THE GROUP SOLICITING.

Donating to the PD or some affiliated charity, perhaps for officers wounded, or for families, etc., is surely a good thing.

But call the PD directly to find out HOW to do this, and whom to contact to make a contribution.

(I wonder if there is verification that a contribution made via a phone scammer is actually tax-deductible. How would that work when it's a total scam, rather than a place that keeps a high "administrative fee"? What kind of receipt is there to show the IRS in case of an audit? Would the IRS just accept a check or charge made out to anything with the word "Police" in it? If so, then I have a special tax-deductible charity called "RM Police Jabberwocky Fund". Please send all contributions c/o Through The Looking Glass Way....)

RM
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby SnapShots » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:38 am

The best advice seems to be Google Voice plus a cell phone if she can use it. You will have total control over who calls her.

Agree with the other posters who say don't change phone numbers, it could make things worst. The Do Not Call Registry is nearly useless.

Check her credit cards and bank account frequently. Chase credit card will send you an email when charges are made to the card.

Some times these guys appear at the door selling stuff. Someone who is lonely for company will often let them in. I freaked out when I found out my mother let in a vacuum salesman, who was there for hours and almost bought one. She didn't have dementia but was lonely.

If you haven't, consider getting Life Line Medical Alert. All mom has to do is push a button. A person's voice comes over a speaker to ask mom what's wrong. Life Line then makes the appropriate call for help, which may be a neighbor, child, emergency service. This service is good for anyone alone.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby LordB » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:55 am

Here is my advice...

Google voice will for $20 allow you to transfer the # to google voice. This way she can keep her own number. Get her a new phone # for the home phone. Don't tell her what that number is and set it up to be private on caller id so that literally no one can know the real home phone # except you.

Do the known caller thing by setting people allowed to call it in google voice and all other calls go to you. Yea you will have to deal with the spammers, but then at least you can still forward any real calls to the real phone # that aren't on the forward list.

As for the credit card and spending in general you seem to have that setup so she can't access anything. If you really must give her access to something for money then I would sign that account up for mint.com which will allow you to setup alerts etc. Also if she needs multiple accounts this will be useful to allow you to monitor all of them at once (yea some people dislike mint.com and are worried about security etc... personally I have decided that doesn't worry me that much).
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Browser » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:58 am

What's to stop scammers from getting ahold of a cell phone number? Then you have the problem of scam calls plus having to use up paid minutes.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby donall » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:15 am

ResearchMed wrote:
frugaltype wrote:
Mitchell777 wrote:Last evening my mother had 3 calls. One from these guys that I believe are calling from India and quickly throw out the word "Microsoft". Had several of these calls. They are attempting to get people to log onto their computers while on the phone with them. The second was this robo call that makes it sound like they have a Lifeline type order waiting for an you. Elderly people can be confused depending on their age and mental state. The last was the police benevolent assn asking for donations. This one is legit yet not sure why they call at least 2X a year. She feels she should give, and she does, so they keep calling yet her financial situation is not nearly as good as those calling. I'm most worried about the first two because they are scams and they are not trying to get a small donation nor are they doing any good for anyone.


I'm not sure that those police benevolent associations and the others, that actually exist, are legitimate in any real sense. I have read that the fundraising companies making the phone calls get 95+% of the donations, not the charity. I would find out what percentage of donations actually go to the group calling your Mom and letting her know if it's out of whack.

I never give a cent to any charity that calls me on the phone, unless I have a longstanding relationship with them, and then if I do contribute as a result of the phone call, I do it via their known website or writing a check and mailing it to their known address.


One of the people posting above mentioned having worked at a place that did calls like this, and kept the vast majority of the money.

I called the Police Department (non-emergency line!) once about one of these calls, because I wanted to complain about the tone, which was more than vaguely threatening. The implication was intended to be "if you don't donate money, we - your local Police Dept - might not be there if you need us". That sounded either fishy (scam) or just downright wrong.

The PD stated that they had received other calls about this, but not about the threatening nature, which they took very seriously, but who knows what they could do?
That's because the PD NEVER HEARD OF THE GROUP SOLICITING.

Donating to the PD or some affiliated charity, perhaps for officers wounded, or for families, etc., is surely a good thing.

But call the PD directly to find out HOW to do this, and whom to contact to make a contribution.

(I wonder if there is verification that a contribution made via a phone scammer is actually tax-deductible. How would that work when it's a total scam, rather than a place that keeps a high "administrative fee"? What kind of receipt is there to show the IRS in case of an audit? Would the IRS just accept a check or charge made out to anything with the word "Police" in it? If so, then I have a special tax-deductible charity called "RM Police Jabberwocky Fund". Please send all contributions c/o Through The Looking Glass Way....)

RM

I spoke with someone concerning a benevolent police organization, and was informed that the contribution was not tax deductible.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby ResearchMed » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:33 am

donall wrote:
I spoke with someone concerning a benevolent police organization, and was informed that the contribution was not tax deductible.


That's really interesting. I would think that most people would assume it was a a contribution to a "real" charity, and thus tax-deductible.

It would lead me to question the basics of the organization - their goals and use of money, etc.

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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby frugaltype » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:45 am

SnapShots wrote:If you haven't, consider getting Life Line Medical Alert. All mom has to do is push a button. A person's voice comes over a speaker to ask mom what's wrong. Life Line then makes the appropriate call for help, which may be a neighbor, child, emergency service. This service is good for anyone alone.


Some of those alert things are good and reasonable in cost. Some are run by scammers and very high cost. A local hospital should be able to refer people to the legitimate ones, and often runs part of those services themselves.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby ResearchMed » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:08 pm

frugaltype wrote:
SnapShots wrote:If you haven't, consider getting Life Line Medical Alert. All mom has to do is push a button. A person's voice comes over a speaker to ask mom what's wrong. Life Line then makes the appropriate call for help, which may be a neighbor, child, emergency service. This service is good for anyone alone.


Some of those alert things are good and reasonable in cost. Some are run by scammers and very high cost. A local hospital should be able to refer people to the legitimate ones, and often runs part of those services themselves.


If she has any sort of monitored alarm system in her home already, that service probably offers an add-on with a panic button.
But one recommended by a local hospital, or perhaps her primary care practitioner, is probably the best for her, given that a health event is probably the highest risk for her.

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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Browser » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:17 pm

LordB wrote:Here is my advice...

Google voice will for $20 allow you to transfer the # to google voice. This way she can keep her own number. Get her a new phone # for the home phone. Don't tell her what that number is and set it up to be private on caller id so that literally no one can know the real home phone # except you.

Do the known caller thing by setting people allowed to call it in google voice and all other calls go to you. Yea you will have to deal with the spammers, but then at least you can still forward any real calls to the real phone # that aren't on the forward list.

As for the credit card and spending in general you seem to have that setup so she can't access anything. If you really must give her access to something for money then I would sign that account up for mint.com which will allow you to setup alerts etc. Also if she needs multiple accounts this will be useful to allow you to monitor all of them at once (yea some people dislike mint.com and are worried about security etc... personally I have decided that doesn't worry me that much).

After I think this through, it might be a good plan. If I understand: Her existing number doesn't change and it becomes a GV number. I can set up a "white list" of numbers that will forward to her new real number (unknown to her). Other calls to her GV number can either be blocked on GV or forwarded to me, is that right?

I like the idea that her phone # wouldn't be changed; however, I still might have to change it if I start getting too many spam calls myself. I'd change it to an unlisted number and use that number as a new GV number for her so I can still screen calls.

Anyone see any problems with this approach?
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby aaasdaef » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:30 pm

You need to check that Google Voice supports transferring a non-cell number. I thought only cell numbers are portable.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby ResearchMed » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:40 pm

aaasdaef wrote:You need to check that Google Voice supports transferring a non-cell number. I thought only cell numbers are portable.


These days you can usually switch numbers between landlines and cell phones. So if GV doesn't support this, you could make the change first, and then start with GV.
In this case, you'd need to mention something to your mother about upgrading her phone service or whatever, so that she understands why her phone might not work for a hopefully short time.

A prepaid cell for her would probably be useful for emergencies, or just to allow her to make a few calls and not feel too isolated.

Does she ever go out?
We felt much better when one set of parents (the ones getting frail, difficult to watch) finally agreed to keep a cell phone with them "for emergencies".
We paid all expenses, but it was still a struggle. Later, they were very grateful. (And getting a few too many confused calls from them later led us to realize that they needed more assistance in their living arrangements. THAT was a *real* struggle...)

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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Browser » Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:13 pm

I just did a quick look at GV and found that landline numbers cannot be ported to GV, only mobile numbers. So, I guess that would mean that she can't keep her existing number as a GV number. I'd have to get her a new landline number (probably unlisted and unknown to her) and then set up a new GV number to forward to that number. I would tell her that her new phone# is the GV number, and give that number to all her legitimate contacts.

The problem that is not solved is that when she makes outbound calls, the recipient will see her real number displayed on caller ID. So, if she returns any calls to scammers, they'll have her real phone #. I don't know if I can put a permanent block on her caller ID to prevent this, but even if I can that would mean that her caller ID isn't displayed when she's making legitimate calls. Most people use caller ID to screen calls these days, so they might not answer and this could create problems.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Epsilon Delta » Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:31 pm

Browser wrote:The problem that is not solved is that when she makes outbound calls, the recipient will see her real number displayed on caller ID. So, if she returns any calls to scammers, they'll have her real phone #. I don't know if I can put a permanent block on her caller ID to prevent this, but even if I can that would mean that her caller ID isn't displayed when she's making legitimate calls. Most people use caller ID to screen calls these days, so they might not answer and this could create problems.


You can put a permanent disable on caller ID, or do it on a per call basis. If you disable globally there is an override (often *82) that allows caller id on a per call basis.

If your mother uses speed dial you can often program the override as part of each number. If you disable caller id globally this means her phone publishes a caller id only for a white list of numbers.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby conradjr » Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:11 am

I'm sorry to hear about your mom falling for this phone scam. I have received several phony calls, too, and I'd say, some of these scammers DO know how to talk people into giving them money. The last call I got, t'was about my computer having a virus or malware something, the scammer was really convincing. He sounded worried and offered to help.But as much as he was trying to trying me, I knew about the scam already. I called the bluff and hung up.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby conradjr » Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:14 am

By the way, the scammer's phone number was 206-456-0661. Apparently, this scammer has been calling people for quite some time, based on the complaints I found at http://www.callercenter.com/206-456-0661.html. So people out there, be aware!
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby pennstater2005 » Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:29 am

Browser wrote:What's to stop scammers from getting ahold of a cell phone number? Then you have the problem of scam calls plus having to use up paid minutes.


My grandmother has a cell phone and gets no calls at all except from family members who have her number.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby dm200 » Sat Jul 06, 2013 3:31 pm

These "police" or "police funds" or similar fundraising calls really irritate me. I have not received these lately, perhaps because my wife is the one who answers our home phone 99% of the time. These calls are either: 1. a complete scam and a bogus organization; or 2. A (at least somewhat) legitimate police (or perhaps firefighter) organization as "sold" or "rented" its name to a paid fundraising (telemarketing) company.

Whenever I get one of these calls, I ask, "Are you a police officer (or firefighter, or whatever)?" When they say something like, "No, the police (or firefighters) are too busy to make the calls", I say, "Sorry, if they are too busy, then so am I. Thank you and have a good evening."
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby Saving$ » Sat Jul 06, 2013 4:47 pm

I received a new scam call the other day - person claimed to be calling from my local alarm monitoring company. He had my name, address, phone and the name of the monitoring company (none of which are difficult to obtain). He claimed they were updating their records, and he needed to confirm my emergency contact numbers. Then he asked for my password to "verify he was speaking to the account holder." I told him to forget it. Called the monitoring company who said they have no one calling to update records. This was a total scam to get my monitoring password.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby 555 » Sat Jul 06, 2013 4:52 pm

Browser wrote:I just did a quick look at GV and found that landline numbers cannot be ported to GV, only mobile numbers. So, I guess that would mean that she can't keep her existing number as a GV number. I'd have to get her a new landline number (probably unlisted and unknown to her) and then set up a new GV number to forward to that number. I would tell her that her new phone# is the GV number, and give that number to all her legitimate contacts.

The problem that is not solved is that when she makes outbound calls, the recipient will see her real number displayed on caller ID. So, if she returns any calls to scammers, they'll have her real phone #. I don't know if I can put a permanent block on her caller ID to prevent this, but even if I can that would mean that her caller ID isn't displayed when she's making legitimate calls. Most people use caller ID to screen calls these days, so they might not answer and this could create problems.

You can port landline --> mobile --> Google Voice, see here
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/government/go ... mber/10455
http://www.obitalk.com/forum/index.php?topic=1432.0
I did this. It's annoying and silly to have the mobile stepping stone, but I did in in a few days for $45 ($15 throwaway mobile phone, $10 throwaway minutes, $20 porting fee for mobile --> GV).

And to state the obvious, report all scams to the police.
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Re: Is there any way to shield elderly mother from phone sca

Postby adrift » Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:24 pm

conradjr wrote:It was about my computer having a virus or malware something, the scammer was really convincing.
By the way, the scammer's phone number was 206-456-0661

I received a version of this as well. The claim is that they are from Windows (I guess trying to make you think it's from Microsoft) and that they are getting messages from your computer because of a virus. They want you to install some software to allow them to log in remotely. Then, they dump the system error log to show you what a mess things are. For a charge to your credit card they will clean things up. So, they've managed to steal both your credit card and your computer. Multiple scammers are involved. All of them have heavy Indian accents.

I was called from 222-555-7777. At the time, I did not know that 222 is a non-existing area code. But, I did know that 555 only shows up in movies and television. I didn't know that the calling number could be spoofed. It's strikingly stupid of them to choose 555 as part of the fraudulent phone number.
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