Seniors are vulnerable to scams. Their sizeable assets, including a home, lifetime savings, and good credit, make the elderly population a prime target for fraudsters. If an aging parent becomes a victim to a scam, family caregivers should take immediate action to protect them and their money.
Why are seniors targeted in scams?
Many older people have difficulty using the latest technologies, from banking apps to email and general internet usage. Without understanding how to avoid risky websites, spot phishing emails, or input credit card data into a site that is secure, seniors can fall prey to scams.
Health conditions also predispose some aging individuals to elder scams. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia rob them of their ability to reason, judge, and think. Progressive brain conditions like these can make it hard for them to manage their money wisely.
Seniors are also less likely to report being scammed after the fact, because they are afraid their loved ones will lose confidence in their ability to independently handle their finances. By not reporting scams to authorities, the con artists escape and target more elderly individuals.
What scams target the elderly?
Older people can become prey to a number of scams. Healthcare scams are common, considering every US citizen over the age of 65 qualifies for Medicare. Lonely widows or widowers can fall for romance schemes, which result in the loss of millions of dollars a year.
Tech support scams financially derail seniors who lack knowledge about cybersecurity. Scammers pose as grandchildren in grandparent scams, asking for money transfers and gift cards that are difficult to trace. Social security scams are conducted by scammers posing as IRS officials.
Seniors’ goodwill is taken advantage of in charity scams. Similarly, sweepstakes scams convince older adults that they’ve won a jackpot, but they must pay hefty fees to claim it. Phishing emails and texts request personal and payment information, which con artists then steal.
What should families do if a parent falls for scams?
1. Report the Scam
When an aging parent has fallen victim to a scam, report it right away to the FBI’s local field office. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center is another place to report the scam. Seniors and their families can also submit a tip online to authorities at the FBI.
Reporting an elder scam can alternately be done by calling the National Elder Fraud Hotline during the week: 833-372-8311. If legal help is warranted, families can contact their local Adult Protective Services office. Search the Eldercare Locator website for the local office’s phone number.
2. Gather Details
Families should gather important details from the senior regarding the scam. Information to give to authorities includes the date the scammer contacted the parent, the name of the individual with whom the senior spoke (or the company), as well as the method of communication.
Make note if the scammer used emails, websites, or phone numbers to engage in fraud. Families should also know the senior’s method of payment used during the scam. Know where the parent sent the funds and relay the scammer’s instructions to the authorities.
3. Secure Accounts
Secure the parent’s financial accounts. Provide the service agent at the financial institution with the same information provided to the FBI. The service agent will freeze the senior’s account or cancel their credit card to prevent the fraudster from making further purchases.
4. Check Credit Scores
Help the elderly parent check their credit score to see if unlawful purchases have affected it. The credit reporting agency usually takes several weeks to make updates, so check at a later date. Consider freezing the parent’s account to prevent new ones from being opened in their name.
5. Change Passwords
Update passwords and usernames to the compromised online accounts used by the elderly parent. Enhance security further by enabling multi-factor authentication to accounts wherever possible. Adjust the elderly parent’s privacy settings on their phone or computer to block spam messages.
How can families protect elderly parents?
Elder scams are prevalent and will not disappear anytime soon. Families can help protect their aging parents by discussing their risks and asking them to notify them as soon as suspicious activity occurs. Help the parent set up alerts so they’ll be notified when an account has been hacked.
Teach elderly parents how to look for both secure and insecure websites. Advise them to never send personal information online or in the mail unless the sender is recognizable. Families should be vigilant for signs of distress or anxiety in a parent, which may indicate being victimized.
Family members should maintain an open dialogue with their elderly parents so that the latter does not feel embarrassed to report a scam. Aging parents may also feel more secure at home when a caregiver is available to support them. Assisting Hands Home Care can provide the help they need.
Our reputable home care agency provides compassionate elder care services to seniors of all ability levels. Professional caregivers assist seniors with the activities of daily living, such as personal hygiene tasks, meal preparation, transportation to areas in the community, and medication reminders.
We match caregivers to seniors to ensure compatibility. As excellent companions, we keep care recipients socially active and engaged. Caregivers play games, hold conversations, and take seniors on safe outings. Our pleasant companionship prevents seniors from feeling isolated, lonely, and depressed.
Families place full trust in the quality of care provided by the caregivers at Assisting Hands Home Care. Our professionals are licensed, bonded, and insured. Caregivers are also trained in CPR and first aid. In the event of an emergency, our caregivers respond quickly and appropriately.
When your aging parent would feel more secure with a professional caregiver to provide reliable support at home, choose Assisting Hands Home Care. We serve seniors living in the surrounding areas of Miramar, Florida.