elder fraud

Protect Your Elderly Parents from Scammers

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As your parent’s age, they may become more vulnerable to scams and fraud. Scammers often target seniors because they believe they are more trusting and may have access to retirement savings or other assets. As a loving child, it’s essential to take steps to protect your elderly parents from scammers. Here are some tips to help keep your parents safe from scams:

A recent article from cbsnews.com, “How to protect elderly parents from financial scams,” says consumers aged 60 and older are less likely to report losing money to fraud than those aged 18—59. Still, when they do report a loss, it tends to be for more money, especially among those 80 and older. They have the highest median loss of all groups.

Older adults are likelier to lose money on scams involving tech support, prizes, sweepstakes, lotteries, and friends and family impersonations. What can you do?

Talk about it. Scams target everyone. Therefore, it is an easy topic to bring up. First, start the conversation with your experiences or a trending news story. Next, explain specific scams, like someone reaching out through social media saying they want to be friends, followed by an urgent request for money or fake text messages from a grandchild who needs bail money. People informed about scams’ specifics are less likely to respond.

Use anti-fraud tools. Spam-blocking apps on cell phones can send unknown numbers to voicemail immediately. A credit freeze can secure credit information and is easily temporarily unlocked for legitimate access. Setting strict privacy tools on social media can also limit the number of scammers who can get through.

Signing up for financial account monitoring or receiving alerts for transactions is easily enough put into place. However, in some instances, it would be wise to allow adult children to monitor these accounts, depending upon the parent’s comfort level with sharing this information.

Put legal tools into place. A durable power of attorney, revocable trust, or, if appropriate, guardianship can be among the most effective ways to keep an older adult’s assets safe from scammers. If a revocable trust is created, an adult child can quickly step in before too much damage is done, whether it’s a fake charity or a “kidnapped grandchild” scammer.

Know the warning signs. An older adult who is suddenly reluctant to talk about their finances has said they are having trouble paying bills when they never had a problem before or is receiving many text messages or phone calls and insists on being alone when they respond may have become a victim of fraud.

Scammers are especially good at creating a sense of urgency, saying their victims must send money or gift cards immediately, or the IRS or police will arrive at their door. The latest wrinkle is the use of artificial intelligence to mimic a loved one’s voice, and the technology is so good that even experts are fooled.

Avoid shaming loved ones. The embarrassment of being the victim of elder financial abuse worsens a bad situation. Don’t scold an older adult for being fooled; they certainly will be angry enough at themselves for being taken. Reassuring words are more likely to allow the victim to keep some of their dignity while encouraging them to call you if, and more likely when, they are confronted with another scammer.

To Review: 

  1. Educate your parents about common scams: Many seniors may not be aware of the various types of scams out there. Educate your parents about common scams, such as phishing scams, lottery scams, and tech support scams. Explain to them how these scams work and what to look out for.
  2. Encourage your parents to be cautious: Encourage your parents to be cautious when they receive unsolicited phone calls or emails. They should never give out personal information, such as social security numbers or banking information, unless they are absolutely sure it is a legitimate request.
  3. Monitor your parents’ finances: Keep an eye on your parents’ finances and look for any unusual activity. If you notice any suspicious activity, such as withdrawals or charges that your parents don’t recognize, investigate it immediately.  Make sure you have a  power of attorney in place for them so you can monitor their claims.
  4. Set up automatic bill payments: Setting up automatic bill payments can help prevent scammers from accessing your parents’ bank accounts. By automating bill payments, your parents won’t have to worry about writing checks or giving out their bank account information.
  5. Keep your parents’ personal information secure: Make sure your parents’ personal information is secure. This includes their social security numbers, birth dates, and other sensitive information. Store this information in a secure place, such as a locked safe.
  6. Stay in touch with your parents: Stay in touch with your parents on a regular basis. This will make it easier to detect any changes in their behavior or financial situation that may indicate they have fallen victim to a scam.

In conclusion, protecting your parents from scammers is crucial. By educating them about common scams, encouraging them to be cautious, monitoring their finances, setting up automatic bill payments, keeping their personal information secure, and staying in touch with them, you can help keep them safe from scammers. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to protecting your loved ones from scams. =

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