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Helping Elderly Parents Avoid Scams

helping elderly parents avoid scamsAs your parents get older, you may find that you have to start helping them out financially. While you may be concerned about paying off debt or saving up to buy a house, your elderly parents will have different financial issues than you. It’s also important that you make sure they are aware that there are scams out there that target senior citizens. Senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg” and have excellent credit, which makes them very attractive to scammers. Because tomorrow is Senior Citizens Day, here are some tips on helping elderly parents avoid scams:

Types of scams that target seniors:

  • Healthcare Fraud:
    • These include medical equipment fraud, bills for services not performed, medicare fraud, etc.
  • Internet Fraud:
    • These include advance fee schemes, pyramid schemes, and prime bank note schemes.
  • Reverse Mortgage Scams:
    • With these scams, victims are offered investment opportunities and foreclosure or refinance assistance.
  • Telemarketing Fraud:
    • This type of scam often involves the victim being told that they have won a free prize or vacation.

People that were raised in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists know it is difficult for older people to hang up the phone or just say “no.” Many of these scams ask the victim to pay upfront for a service that will never actually be performed. Other times, they say that even though a prize or service is “free,” the scam victim still must pay postage or other fees.

You can help elderly parents avoid scams by encouraging them to ask questions when they answer a phone call from a company they have never heard of. Additionally, let your parents know that they should never give credit card information or social security numbers to someone they don’t know. Of course, your parents probably do not want to be lectured about scams. A more subtle way to talk about it would be to have it come up in a casual conversation. For example, new scams are sometimes reported on the news. You can start a conversation by talking about the news and go from there.

What to do if your parent becomes a victim of a scam:

If your parent becomes a victim of a scam, find the contact info for Adult Protective Services in your area. Remind your parents they can call the police if they haven’t already. Your parents may be embarrassed that they fell for a scam, but reassure them that you are there to help them, not to judge. Also let them know they should check their credit report every year. This can be helpful in finding any other signs of fraud or identity theft. 

ABOUT AUTHOR / Madison

Madison is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. She is excited to share her tips on saving money and being financially responsible here on the Talking Cents blog!

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