Strategies to Protect Maryland Seniors From Scams

Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy joins The Senior Soup Podcast

Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy joined Raquel Micit and Ryan Miner on The Senior Soup Podcast to discuss senior scam prevention and how their adult children can help protect their parents from senior scams. 

Mr. McCarthy shared how his office works with several Montgomery County organizations and senior living communities to help recognize elder abuse and prevent elder abuse and scams before they happen.

Our Mission is to Protect

As healthcare and senior services professionals, we’ve seen firsthand the daily challenges and threats that older adults face.

The Senior Soup’s mission is to be a beacon of hope and a shield against those who prey on the vulnerability of our elders.

With the senior population increasing, the urgency to act and educate has never been more critical.

Education: The First Line of Defense

This podcast episode underscored a powerful truth: education is our best defense against victimization.

Knowledge empowers our older adult community to recognize and evade scams before they happen.

In this podcast, we discussed the various educational programs in Montgomery County, such as Oasis and OSHA, which have been instrumental in equipping seniors with the knowledge they need to stay safe.

How to Recognize Senior Scams

Scams come in many forms, from IRS frauds to fake home repair offers.

The heart-wrenching reality is that often, sadly, the scammer is someone an older knows and trusts.

Mr. McCarty discussed the importance of recognizing the signs of a scam and the strategies employed by scammers, such as phishing emails and phone scams.

Vigilance is key!

Unrecognized Phone Calls

Seniors are advised against answering phone calls from numbers they do not recognize.

Scammers often use phone calls as a direct method to deceive or extract personal information from seniors. If the call is necessary, the caller will likely leave a message or find another way to reach out.

Phishing Emails

Warning signs include emails that appear to be from legitimate organizations, such as banks, but with slight alterations in the email address (e.g., adding an extra letter or symbol).

Older adults are cautioned not to open these emails and to contact the institution directly through a verified number or website.

Seasonal and Opportunistic Scams

Awareness of seasonal trends in scams, such as IRS scams around tax time or traveler scams in spring, can help seniors be more vigilant during these periods.

Recognizing these scams’ patterns and timing can be crucial in avoiding victimization.

Financial Exploitation by Familiars

Many financial scams involve someone an older adult knows – often a family member.

Recognizing unusual financial requests or transactions involving close contacts can be a red flag for potential exploitation.

Home Repair and Service Scams

Seniors should be wary of individuals offering roof repair or tree-cutting services without solicitation, especially when these offers come at high costs and without the necessity of the service.

By understanding and recognizing these signs and tactics used by scammers, older adults, and their caregivers can be better equipped to protect against potential scams and exploitation.

Take Action to Prevent Senior Scams!

Below is a list of actionable items seniors can use to avoid being scammed:

  • Research “senior scams” to learn how to avoid them.
  • Use reputable agencies to hire caregivers, emphasizing the importance of thorough background checks, including at the state and federal levels.
  • Seniors can look out for one another, especially by observing and reporting potential scams that target older adults.
  • Seniors and their families should verify the legitimacy of emails and phone calls to prevent phishing and other scams.
  • Please try to refrain from answering phone calls using unrecognized numbers.
  • Older adults should be cautious about who they allow into their homes and ensure that any service providers with access to their homes are adequately vetted.
  • Families and caregivers should maintain open communication and oversight about their loved one’s financial affairs to prevent exploitation.
  • To mitigate the risk of fraud, more than one person (a trusted loved one) should have visibility into a senior’s financial records and transactions.
  • Encourage listening to and sharing information from resources like the podcast episode to increase awareness and education on preventing senior scams.

Building a Safer Community Through Advocacy

A crucial aspect touched upon in this podcast was the significant underreporting of crimes against seniors, with a startling statistic revealing that only 4% of such crimes are reported by the victims themselves.

This underreporting underscores the importance of community vigilance and the collective responsibility to protect our elderly population.

It is a potent call to action for everyone in the community to be more observant and proactive in safeguarding seniors against scams and exploitation.

Montgomery County Senior Scam Prevention Resources 

  • Washington Metro Oasis, located at Montgomery Mall, serves the senior community with various educational programs. You can contact them at (240) 800-3745.
  • OSHA, formerly associated with Johns Hopkins, now offers live classes at the Black Rock Center for the Arts in Germantown, focused on continuous education for seniors.
  • Specialized units within the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office are specifically trained to prosecute crimes against seniors, including financial crimes and physical abuse.
  • The Montgomery County Consumer Protection Agency, led by Eric Friedman, is a collaborative effort to address issues threatening seniors.

Contact The Senior Soup for Resources 

We hope this guide is a valuable resource for seniors and their families to protect themselves from nefarious scammers.

Our mission is to create a community where our older adult community feels respected and cherished.

Please get in touch with The Senior Soup at (202) 350-2674 if you need additional resources.

Ryan Miner is a co-founder of The Senior Soup and host of The Senior Soup Podcast


Ryan Miner is an experienced healthcare marketing professional and a digital marketing specialist. He earned a B.A. from Duquesne University and an M.B.A. at Mount St. Mary’s University. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. program in Health Care Management.

About The Senior Soup

The Senior Soup aims to connect aging adults and their loved ones with many aging-specific resources, including senior services professionals, healthcare experts, and community organizations.

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