Financial elder abuse can affect a loved one in many different ways, but one of the most common ways is through financial scams. Years ago, scammers would target the elderly solely through telemarketing calls, but with the increase in seniors using the internet, online scams, such as prescription drug and anti-aging product scams, have been on the rise.
So what can you do to help? Talking to your loved one about these financial scams is one of most important things you can do. There are many reasons why scammers target the elderly, which is why it is important for caregivers to know how to talk to your loved one about scams.
Here are three different approaches outlined by AARP that you can use to talk to your loved one about scams:
- Explain why. When you talk to your loved one about scams, it’s important that you explain why they should ignore the phone calls or letters. If your loved one received a scam in the mail or online, examine it with them and show them the warning signs that it is a scam. It could be something as simple as reminding them that you need to actually enter the contest or lottery to win the prize, for which you would never have to pay a fee.
- Don’t shame them. Scam victims are often embarrassed, but this is nothing to be ashamed of – scammers are extremely clever and millions of older adults fall prey to these scams every year. All that’s needed is a simple yet very important reminder that is often forgotten as we get older: don’t trust strangers. Stress the idea that if the offer seems too good to be true, a scammer is probably behind it.
- Try reverse psychology. If you know for a fact that your loved one is entering sweepstakes, make it seem like you’re interested in doing the same. Psychologists believe this can sometimes work as a wake-up call for your loved one. After all, your loved one wouldn’t want to see you lose money just as much as you don’t want them to lose money. By asking them why they enter these sweepstakes, it may help them realize how these scams work.
So what do you do if your parent is a victim of one of these scams? After reporting the scam to your local law enforcement office and federal agencies through STOPFRAUD.GOV, use your loved one’s story to protect others. Remind your loved one that the authorities are always looking for scammers, and the details of the scam can help them find scammers and protect others.
Protection from Senior Scams
Once you talk to your loved one about scams, it may also be helpful to take these following steps:
- Set up online access to your loved one’s credit card and back accounts to track their finances, and use AnnualCreditReport.com to ensure a fake account hasn’t been created in his/her name.
- Place your loved one’s number on the National Do Not Call Registry.
- Place your loved one’s address on the Direct Marketing Association’s opt-out lists, and report any mailed scams to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
- Enlist the help of trusted neighbors or friends, especially if you don’t live nearby.
Should your loved one be confronted with scams over the phone or internet, make sure he/she knows how to stay protected from these scams.