More and more scammers have been preying on unsuspecting victims, thanks to improved technology. Although anyone can fall prey to a scammer, the elderly are at most risk because scammers often target them. According to Aging Place, scammers often target the elderly because they are more trusting, and insecure and may have lowered cognition due to age, making them the perfect prey. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your elderly parents from being victims of scams.
Explain Red Flags to Your Parents
Scammers are always coming up with new ways to get other people’s money. When something works well, other scammers take note and use these methods themselves. One of the best defenses against scams is detecting red flags early before your parents provide personal information that they’ll regret later. The red flags your elderly parents should watch out for include:
- Requests for money
- Calls from government agencies providing benefits to your loved one, such as Social Security and Medicare, and the IRS.
- Unsolicited phone calls
- Emergency calls requesting emergency funds for grandchildren.
- No risk, high-return investment opportunities.
- Free lung or free dinner seminars
- Educating your elderly parents can help prevent them from being victims of scams.
- Put Your Parents on the National “Do Not Call” Registry
Thanks to numerous complaints about telemarketers, the Federal Trade Commission created the “Do Not Call” Registry to prevent telemarketers and scammers from calling. You can register your parents’ names and phone numbers to stop unsolicited phone calls that could worry your parents enough that they’ll provide personal information to the scammer, allowing them to take anything they want.
Let Your Parents Know What To Say If they Get a Scam Phone Call
Most people hang up as soon as they realize there is a telemarketer or someone requesting money on the line. Elderly people often let them speak to avoid being rude, but the longer they listen, the greater the risk of being scammed. It’s best to tell your parents what to say when they get one of these calls, such as, “I’m busy making dinner and can’t talk right now,” or “I’m walking out the door and don’t have time to talk.” Getting your parents off the line as quickly as possible
Reduce Junk Mail
Scammers often use mail offers to scam the elderly. Your loved one may not understand what is legit and what is a scam, and registering with DMAchoice.org can help. You can opt your parents’ names off direct mail offer lists, but it won’t stop the flow of marketing mail. It will, however, opt you out of the mail from members of the Direct Marketing Association. It’s also best to instruct your parents to do nothing with enticing offers before you’ve had a chance to do your own research.
Protect a Parent With Cognitive Issues
If a parent has Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s easy for scammers to take advantage. These conditions also put your parents at significant risk. People with cognitive issues tend to walk off, forget to eat, take medication and provide basic care for themselves. Moving your loved one to a community specializing in memory care in Stockton, CA will ensure they are safe and well cared for when you can’t be with them, and will screen calls to protect your loved one from scammers.
Advise the Staff
If your loved one lives in a senior living community, they have a significant amount of freedom and will receive phone calls and mail directly to their unit. It’s a good idea to talk to the staff about potential scams, so they can educate your loved ones and the other members of the community. Education and frequent reminders can protect everyone from falling victim to a scammer, and you can prevent your parents from making a costly mistake.
Help Your Parents Monitor Their Accounts
It’s a good idea to get your parents into the habit of checking their accounts regularly to detect any suspicious activity right away. The best way to do this is by setting up online access to their bank accounts and creating strong passwords they can remember. You can also check their accounts yourself if you’re worried they will forget, which will provide some peace of mind.
It’s terrible that scammers prey on the elderly, and fortunately, there are ways to protect your parents from becoming victims of fraud. The tips listed above will prevent your loved one from agreeing to something on the phone or via mail that is a scam and can destroy their financial future.