Does someone you love use a landline phone?
Phone fraud is a huge problem.
I started searching for a solution to phone fraud after a close friend’s parent lost a large amount of money to criminal scammers. Before I could find a technology-based solution, the family ended up taking the phone away from their elderly parent.
The parent felt ashamed for having been deceived by the scammer, a shame that persists because having to ask to use their child’s phone reminds them daily that, “I can’t be trusted to have a phone.”
Like our friends, many families have felt forced into taking their senior family member’s phones away from them to protect them from criminals.
Beyond the embarrassment and feelings of shame, losing access to one’s phone increases social isolation. Given what we ALL just learned from our own pandemic isolation, this is NOT good. In fact, isolation has a devastating impact on the health and well-being of older adults.
Smartphone owners can easily get call screening and blocking apps, but until recently there were no good options available to protect landline phones.
Good news! Innovative landline phone services are now available that help protect your senior without taking away their ability to connect with their loved ones.
The Scope of Phone Fraud: It is a Huge Problem
According to the most recent Truecaller Insights US Spam & Scam Report[i]:
· A staggering 29.8 Billion USD* was lost to phone scams in America over the past 12 months.
· As many as 59.49 Million Americans (23%) report having lost money as a result of phone scams in the past 12 months.
According to the FBI’s 2020 IC3 Elder Fraud Annual Report[ii]:
· More than 100,000 of America’s senior adults fell prey to fraudsters.
· The average loss was $9,175.
· Nearly 2,000 senior adults lost more than $100,000 each.
This article is about landline phones, not smartphones.
There are many smartphone apps available that screen or block likely scammers. Most cellular phone companies include a call screening app with their services for no extra charge or a small monthly premium.
This article is about protecting landline phones from the scammers.
Some Traditional Landline Providers Offer Protections
Some landline phone companies offer a call blocking service that reduces the number of robocalls.
However, these services do not offer the level of protection available through some alternative phone services designed for senior adults and family caregivers.
Innovative Solutions Make Your Phone Your Friend Again
Happily, innovative phone services can dramatically reduce the likelihood of scammers reaching you or your loved ones via a landline phone. These cost-effective solutions enable senior adults to stay connected safely at home and when transitioning to new living situations.
You can configure these phone services to block anonymous calls and calls from known scammers. Scam callers can be blocked or sent to “ring forever hell.”
Beyond this basic level of call blocking, you can even set these phone services to allow only people on your contact list to ring your phone. Legitimate callers not on your contact list can be routed to voice mail without ringing the phone.
These simple-to-implement technology solutions:
· reduce the likelihood that senior adults get scammed out of their life savings
· reduce social isolation and its negative health impacts
· increase the quality of life for senior adults and their caregivers
Two Home Phone Services Designed to Protect Senior Adults and People Living with Dementia
Both solutions can use a companion app that enables a designated caregiver to manage the solution. For example, caregivers can see call histories, receive notifications of new voicemail messages, listen to voicemails, manage contacts. They can also receive notifications if the person they care for calls 911.
I created the CTS Safe at Home Phone. It is based on the Ooma Telo 4G and Ooma Premier. In the process, I became a business partner with Ooma. I make money from the sale of this solution.
I also negotiated a coupon-based discount with teleCalm. Purchases of this solution create affiliate income for me.
Change Your Phone Service, Not Your Phone
More good news. Not only can these solutions block the bad guys, but they may also cost less than your existing phone service.
With either of these solutions in place, you can make your home telephone your friend again and stay connected safely.
Learn about more ways to stay connected safely…
Please visit the Caregiver Technology Solutions website to learn more about technologies that enable senior adults to stay connected safely at home and when transitioning to new living situations.
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REFERENCES AND RESOURCES:
[i] https://truecaller.blog/2021/06/28/us-spam-scam-report-21/. Accessed March 26, 2022.
[ii] 2020 IC3 Elder Fraud Annual Report from the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). https://www.ic3.gov/Media/PDF/AnnualReport/2020_IC3ElderFraudReport.pdf
[v] https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/block-robocalls-and-spam-calls. December 17, 2021.
[vi] https://www.cox.com/residential/support/setting-up-nomorobo.html. Accessed March 26, 2022.
[vii] https://www.verizon.com/support/residential/homephone/calling-features/stop-unwanted-calls. Accessed March 26, 2022