Watching the BBC, I often see reports on the elderly being ripped off, scammed and targeted by fraudsters. Here’s just a few recent ones:
- Hidden ‘shame’ of elderly scam victims – BBC News
- Reports of frauds on the elderly are ‘tip of iceberg’ – BBC News
- Bank staff ‘saving elderly from scams’ – BBC News
- Fraud victims let down by ‘inconsistent policing’ – BBC News
- Elderly ‘under siege’ from fake HMRC and police scammers – BBC News
- Coventry fake doctor jailed for duping elderly people – BBC News
Obviously if your gran or great grandma is suffering from dementia, then they can become a target for criminal activity, but even those with all their senses can be easily duped, maybe because they are more trusting. I personally was exposed to this recently when an elderly gentleman rang me and asked if he really had won £1 million on the Financial Services Club email lottery, which doesn’t exist. Equally, my colleague at one of the big UK banks tells me that elderly couples quite regularly appear in their Head Office asking about their inheritance claim for which they’ve sent thousands of pounds to the solicitor overseas. Again, no such inheritances exist.
But it does get more sinister than this. In this clip, a literal boiler room scam involved offering elderly targets a ‘free’ boiler, as long as they paid a significant amount upfront under a 12-year contract.
The problem here is that many are not reporting the issue because they feel embarrassed to have been scammed. They don’t like feeling vulnerable and old. According to the BBC:
Fraudsters scammed nearly 49,000 older people across the UK in the past year, equivalent to almost six reports every hour, a BBC investigation has found. The total number of reports has nearly doubled in the past three years, 5 live Investigates has learned. But one expert said the true number of elderly victims was likely to be in the millions. Police said more victims were coming forward but admitted they were the “tip of the iceberg”.
I was therefore intrigued to see a new area of FinTech rising: GrandTech, I’ll call it. GrandTech looks after grandparents and great-grandparents considered financially vulnerable by their children and grandchildren.
I first stumbled across GrandTech in a Wall Street Journal article last week (sits behind a paywall).
It recounts various stories of people in their 50s with parents in their 80s who have been defrauded. The most common one seems to be the carers. The carers are often there all day, feeding and providing medical cover for the parent or grandparent, but are just hired hands who, when opportunity areises, may take it.
For example, in one particular story, they found that the parent had opened 15 new credit card accounts in the last three years, racking up debts of six figures. Of course, the parent had not done this at all, it was the carer, but an app with an alert of any change of financial activity that links the parent and child or grandchild could have overcome this.
And that’s exactly what GrandTech is all about: alerting relatives when financial activities occur related to their elderly parents and grandparents.
SilverBills aims to take care of the fragmented process of managing bills for seniors. While the service is online, seniors don’t have to be online to use it. Here’s how it works: After enrolling in SilverBills (which can also occur via the mail), the service pays all of your regular bills (most clients have about 10) on your behalf, on time.
EverSafe links all of the senior’s various financial accounts to the service. This way, the app can understand their habits and can send alerts when it spots something strange among your transactions, such as taking out money at the ATM at 2 a.m.
Silvernest is a web-based tool specifically designed for baby boomers and empty nesters to find other people to live with them as companions. To use it, the senior can create a listing for their home and share information about themselves and what their roommate preferences are, such as gender. Then, the service will pair up homeowners with potential housemates they can message to find the right fit.
Ready, Set, Bank is the result of a partnership between Capital One with Older Adults Technology, a non-profit that supports older adults in using technology, and Grovo. The service provides a video series to show older adults how to deposit checks on mobile devices or set up automatic bill payment, and beyond. The series is called “Ready, Set, Bank” and it’s aimed at training seniors on how to do their digital banking.
Bearing in mind we are all likely to live longer – adults 65 and older will account for 21.7 percent of the US population by 2040, up from 15.2 percent in 2016 (The Administration for Community Living report) – then it’s a market that is likely to grow dramatically in the next few years.
So, let’s look out for more GrandTech apps, in a marketplace currently seriuolsy under-served.