Talking to Your Parent about Money Scams during National Consumer Protection Week

As a caregiver, you may wish you didn’t have to talk to your elderly parent about the possibility of someone trying to scam her for her money or information. It seems like such a cruel activity that it can be hard to imagine how or why someone would want to do that. But, unfortunately, many scam artists target the elderly, knowing their weak spots and using them to their advantage. As National Consumer Protection Week takes place from February 28 through March 6, use this time to sit with your parent and discuss the dangers of sharing her information or making purchases from unknown individuals.

Anyone Can Scam Your Parent.

While we’d like to believe that only a stranger would try to scam your parent, the truth is 90% of senior financial abuse comes from those closest to the senior – her family, neighbors and even people that work for her like a housecleaner or senior care provider. It can come from outright theft of items in her home to using money that should belong to your parent for personal reasons. Encourage your parent to keep close track of finances as well as items in her home that are valuable.

Isolation Leads to Greater Vulnerability.

Scammers look for people who are lonely and don’t have a lot of people in their lives to help them make decisions. Thankfully, as a caregiver for your parent, you’ve already provided her with one resource against this tactic. Helping your parent stay connected with caring individuals like her senior care provider or local friends, will reduce the chance that she’ll reach out to a stranger for connection and then possible abuse.

Impulse Buying from Unsolicited Sellers Can be Risky.

Whether it’s a phone call, a knock on the door, or a pop-up ad on her computer, teach your parent to never purchase from anyone without doing her due diligence of researching the person, charity or company first. This may seem a bit intimidating so offer to help or find someone who can help your parent do some investigation. By providing this step in her purchases or donations, it’ll also help stop any impulse decisions regarding her finances.

Printed Account Numbers May Lead to Identity Theft.

Whether it’s a bank account statement, an old check stub, or a receipt with a credit card number on it, all of these can be fished from the garbage and used by an identity thief. One of the easiest solutions for identity theft is using a shredder. A small home shredder can be used by your parent to dispose of private information.

Scammers are Great at Sounding Legitimate.

If your parent hasn’t initiated a conversation with an entity, remind her to never provide information like her birthdate, social security number, or bank information to someone who randomly calls or emails saying they are an employee of a trustworthy company, such as a bank or a credit card company. Legitimate businesses will never ask for that information. Scam artists can steal logos and letterheads from even the most prominent companies to look legitimate.

Reminding your parent that if something seems too good to be true or if red flags are popping up, that’s the time to step back and reevaluate what the person is asking from her. If it’s a legitimate offer or request, they will wait until your parent checks their legitimacy.



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