While scammers go after pretty much everyone, older people tend to be their favorite target. This is largely because older folks are generally more trusting, highly vulnerable and less likely to detect scams.
While California, like most states, has put in place laws that prohibit elder financial abuse, it is unfortunate that this crime still happens. Here are ways you can safeguard your elderly parents or grandparents from financial fraud.
Know what is going on in their lives
Scammers go after vulnerable elders – those who are isolated, mentally or physically impaired, lonely, those who have recently lost their partners or those who are having challenges handling their own finances. Remaining in close touch with your elderly parents can help you notice signs of loneliness or even have them confide in you when they need help handling their finances. Additionally, this can help you notice “new friends” that may have sinister motivations.
Beware of the real risk
It is not uncommon for elder financial abuse to be perpetrated by people closest to the victim. These include spouses, adult children, siblings and even nieces and nephews. Scams usually take the forms of withdrawing funds from joint accounts without the victim’s knowledge, threats and intimidation to give up their wealth in exchange for care, manipulating the will or even outright theft. You can protect your elderly relatives from these forms of abuse by closely monitoring their bank accounts, encouraging them to update their estate plans and setting up safeguards on their bank accounts.
Get rid of any receipts with their credit card number
Identity theft is quite rampant. To protect your elderly parent or grandparent, be sure to invest in – and use – a paper shredder. This way, you can routinely encourage and, where necessary, assist them in shredding any receipts, bank and credit card statements that contain their credit card numbers. Additionally, be sure to caution your elderly folks against giving out personal information over the phone or via mail.
Losing money to scams can be incredibly devastating to elderly people who may not have the strength to earn back what they have lost. Find out how you can protect your older relatives from financial fraud in the digital era.