I’ve written previous blog posts about financial fraud and scams that prey on the elderly. Since then, I’ve received a lot of feedback and questions on the subject. Some of my friends and acquaintances have even told me that their own parents were victims of a financial scam. Because such scams tend to flourish during economic downturns like the one we are in, I thought it was a great time to review how to protect your older family members from fraud.
Protecting Older Family Members From Fraud
Older people are targeted by con artists because they often have more money or are perceived to have more money by con artists, and not necessarily because they are frail and helpless. Fortunately, there are many resources that can be used to help educate and protect the elderly, their families and their caregivers.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) recently released the results of a year-long study about fraud and the activities that can put potential victims at risk. The study included hundreds of individuals over the age of 50 who had been victims of fraud, identity theft. The most common types of fraud and scams contained in the study were advanced fee loan scams, fake investment opportunities, fraudulent business opportunities, and lottery scams.
What actions caused these older adults to be susceptible to these schemes?
All of these fraud types required the victims to pay money up front with the expectation of receiving a loan, investment return, or lottery winnings; once the scammers had the up-front payment, they then predictably vanished.
The AARP study also noted that seniors place themselves at a greater risk for being a victim of fraud by doing seemingly innocent things like attending free lunch seminars, entering drawings and contests for free prizes, reading and accepting junk mail offers, and sitting through sales pitches.
It was discovered that 65% of senior fraud victims commonly took part in at least 2 of those 4 activities. If you have elderly family members who may be at risk for fraud, I recommend that you click on the AARP link here and view the entire study. http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/econ/fraud-victims-11.pdf
How to Protect Your Elderly Family Members
For now, here are some immediate actions you can take to protect your elderly parents or family members:
- Talk to your parents about scams that target the elderly. Create a plan to protect them.
- Help your family member manage their personal finances. Review canceled checks and look for gifts and unusual payments that they have made. Warn them not to give personal banking information, credit card numbers or social security numbers to anyone over the phone.
- Visit your at-risk family member’s home often. Check for evidence of visits from contractors or new friends. Ask them if anyone new has been to the house for a visit.
- Check the medications they are taking. Research any “miracle cure” products that they may have discovered.
- Educate yourself on current scams. Advise your older family members to say “no thanks” to people who knock on their doors or call them on the phone.
- Warn your older family members not to sign any forms or documents without reviewing the materials with another family member or attorney.
- Contact the media and the police about any fraudulent activity.
- Close any bank or credit card accounts that were involved in a scam.
- Join a caregiver’s support group to cope with caring for your parents.
It is also important to remember not to blame your parent or older relative for falling victim to financial fraud. Be sure to explain to them what happened and the steps they can take to prevent against future scams.
Have a question about Elder Care? To submit a private question to me, CLICK HERE.
Securities offered through American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc. Member: FINRA, SIPC. Investment Advisory services are offered through American Portfolios Advisors, Inc., an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Froehlich Financial Group, LTD is not an affiliate of APA or APFS.
Disclosure: If legal, tax, or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. This article is for informational purposes only.
TOPIC: Fraud Protection for the Elderly