Fraud Protection Tips for Elderly Family Members

Fraud Protection for the Elderly

How do you protect your elderly family members from fraud?

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:

  1. Talk to your parents about scams that target the elderly. Create a plan to protect them.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Check the medications they are taking. Research any “miracle cure” products that they may have discovered.
  5. 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.
  6. Warn your older family members not to sign any forms or documents without reviewing the materials with another family member or attorney.
  7. Contact the media and the police about any fraudulent activity.
  8. Close any bank or credit card accounts that were involved in a scam.
  9. 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

 

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About Tom Froehlich

Tom Froehlich has been helping business owners, professionals, and their families to build, transfer, and preserve wealth for over 25 years. Have a question about your financial situation? CLICK HERE TO ASK TOM!

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2 Responses to Fraud Protection Tips for Elderly Family Members

  1. Howard Edelstein November 21, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    Tom Froehlich’s article’s brings up extremely significant points about elderly protection from fraud. Every received telephone call, mail corrrespondence, financial or credit transaction with regards to elderly people has to be handled with the highest degree of caution. Sometimes adult children do not live near their elderly parents and therefore cannot monitor bills and outgoing payments through cancelled checks or credit card statements. Having a second set of eyes focusing on these circumstances is invaluable for protection and prevention of fraud.

    Unfortunately, fraud can surface itself in many shapes or forms. Fraud can go undetected for some time if no precautions are taken. The elderly are highly accessible and vulnerable to the unfavorable consequences if measures are not put in place to protect them, as Tom Froehlich writes about.

  2. Tom February 11, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    This is a reason for the beginning of the end of the “land line.” New hardware and software makes it very easy to block numbers on a cell phone. I don’t even answer my home phone any more. It’s a decoy for all the marketers and scam artists who ignore my “Do Not Call” request.

    Some of the most annoying of all callers are 3rd party agents of vendors you deal with. These are “legitimate” calls that I do not want. Sometimes for sport I’ll talk endlessly to one of them while watching a sporting event. I try to see how much of their time I can waste before they hang up. Fair is fair… :-P

    As for the “We know where you live” comment, well… I would encourage people to live in states with a very strong Castle Doctrine. “Go ahead; make my day!”

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