Richard Guthrie, 92, said he took the scammer’s phone calls because he was lonely.
In 2007, the New York Times covered a spate of phone scams targeting the elderly. Guthrie, a widower and Purple Heart veteran, was one of them. In the end, he lost all of his savings — including the money he was planning to give to his great-grandkids for college — to telephone scams.
Unfortunately, Guthrie’s case isn’t unique. Senior citizens lose about $2.9 billion each year (each year!) from financial scams and abuse, according to a 2011 report by MetLife.
There are a number of reasons scammers target the elderly. They often have savings, for instance, and can be reluctant to contact the authorities if they are victims.
Even more dastardly, scammers often target people with dementia. The medical condition hits more than 1 in 20 seniors, taking a heavy toll on them and their caretakers — before having to worry about scammers.
So wouldn’t it be great if there were a simple solution to all this?
The United Kingdom has a pretty interesting idea on how to stop the calls altogether.
On April 6, the U.K. announced it would fund the rollout of a call-blocking device to about 1,500 people, according to the The Guardian.
The small device, known as trueCall, plugs in between a phone and wall outlet. Once installed, it can block recorded messages, silent calls, or calls from unknown numbers.
The initial rollout will go to people such as dementia patients who have been identified by their doctor as especially vulnerable.
“We have seen people tricked out of thousands of pounds by scam callers, and this government is determined to clamp down on their activities once and for all,” Prime Minister Theresa May said while announcing the fund.
This is could be a big “take that!” at granny-defrauding, savings-stealing scammers.
Nobody deserves to have their life savings whittled away — not people who should be entering their golden years, like Guthrie, and especially not people and families who are already shouldering the toll dementia can take.
Hopefully, this new solution will help those 1,500 families breathe a little easier.