Boomers aging at home must be on guard against scammers

MANY baby boomers have an age-in-place agenda; they don't plan to leave their current homes until they are well into retirement - and may never relocate at all - according to a new survey.

"When an elder is healthy and socially active surrounded with friends or family, they will want to remain in their homes," says probate lawyer and author Kristi Hood.

"If they have confidence that someone will always be just a phone call away, they will want to stay in their own home."

This trend toward inertia is pervasive and potentially problematic: many Australians aged 50 and over plan to live in their current homes until they're 80 or older, and the average age they say they intend to stay in their current homes until is 79.

But aging at home offers no guarantee of safety, and retirees can be left particularly vulnerable.

Older Australians run a greater risk of being taken advantage of when it comes to dealing with repairmen, and letting a virtual stranger into their home can really increase this anxiety.

A US federal consumer network, which collects consumer complaints and makes them available to law enforcement, found 26% of all fraud complaints were made by people 60 and older. And frauds targeting this most-commonly bamboozled demographic are on the rise.

It's not difficult for con artists to gain access to seniors' homes and information. Even handy types eventually find themselves in need of outside experts.

"When a home repair is needed, it's important that older homeowners have someone reliable they can turn to," say experts on aging.

They should consider a home repair service plan that gives them access to local, licensed and insured contractors that have already been pre-vetted for them."

The most common home emergency for boomers involves home heating or air-conditioning units with the next most-common issue blocked or overflowing toilets, followed by electrical problems.

Requesting references from previous customers or searching online reviews will help older Australians make more informed decisions when selecting a contractor to perform repairs.

Retirees should also be clear about who will be arriving at their home, and at what time on the designated day, and should ask the representative to show a photo ID upon arrival.

"Many scammers use official-looking stationary to appear as if the mail is coming from Medicare our other health services," says Jack Halpern, CEO of an elder care franchise that works with families to navigate the health care system.

"There are also door-to-door sales people who scam seniors with house or car-fixing scams, and when elders loss their assets to [scammers] and they need care, they will have to look to welfare," he said.

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