When you were young, your parent most likely warned you not to trust strangers. As your parent grows older, it’s time to return the favor. Seniors are frequent targets for financial scams, many have considerable assets and excellent credit which makes for easy victims when combined with advanced age and compromised decision-making capacity. Loneliness and too much free time can cause them to listen to pitches, read direct mail pieces, and check out unsolicited emails.
Some of the most common cons involve fake cemetery plots or funeral arrangements, counterfeit medications, worthless anti-aging products, phony charity appeals, home repair fraud, lottery scams, investment schemes, and a thief posing as a Medicare representative to obtain personal information. Here are a few things you can do to keep them safe in todays age:
Monitor Finances and Credit. Get involved with their finances and review statements or have online access to their accounts so you can watch for unusual charges. Use a credit monitoring service and ensure no additional lines of credit or inquiries are being made.
Remove from Lists. Add them to the Do Not Call registry and opt out lists from the Direct Marketing Association, ask them to be extremely skeptical of telemarketers who still call. Also consider cancelling a land line in favor of a cell number where telemarketing and scam calls are less frequent. Ask them to share requests and solicitations, so you can investigate them. After your parent receives a questionable call or letter, discuss potential red flags.
Screen Visitors. When possible, know who they see and talk to. Carefully screen home caregivers and use accredited companies for any home visits for repairs or service. To be extra safe, lock driver’s license, valuables, and credit cards in a safe.
Open Dialogue. Ask questions if they become withdrawn, don’t show judgement for decisions but focus on education. Urge your parent not to give personal information to strangers or to make quick financial decisions, especially when pressured. If they’ve been victimized, encourage them to alert authorities to protect others.
Approaching an aging parent about their ability to keep making wise financial decisions can be difficult. We can assist by creating opportunities to educate your parent about potential dangers, safeguard their assets and encourage them to take steps to prevent future fraud, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
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