Elder Abuse Scams

A day doesn't go by that a senior citizen isn't impacted by a scam perpetuated by an unscrupulous person. These scams range from financial advisors who misappropriate the funds they are managing to swindlers who rip off senior citizens by offering fake prizes and sweepstakes in order to lure the unsuspecting person to part with their funds in hopes of winning the big prize. There are other devious methods that are used by contractors in order to provide the senior citizen with a new roof or new driveway for costs that are far in excess of their fair market value.

Many senior citizens are lonely and enjoy the contact that they receive from a third party. They are often times trusting of the person who knocks at their door and spins a friendly yarn or two. Many of these folks are also suffering from a certain amount of memory loss. They often become confused and don't fully understand the sales pitch from the silver tongued stranger.

As a loving child or family member, how do you protect your loved one from the world of the scammer? First I would suggest that there should come a time where the control of the finances of the senior citizen should switch to trusted members of their family. You can still allow your parents to have a small amount of funds that they oversee. If they are scammed by a third party, then the impact can be greatly reduced. You may also require two signatures on certain accounts so the vast majority of your loved one's assets can be protected. You should always check your parents' financial advisor's credentials. It is also wise to get your parents to approve free communication with their financial advisors so they can alert you to any irregular activity impacting their financial investments. Someone in the family or a third party that you hire should visit your parents periodically in order to see that nothing is awry. In order to relieve the burden of paying bills and expenses, you may want to convince your parents to turn control of their checkbook over to a family member, bookkeeper or trusted third party.

You should review any and all contracts entered into by your parents as they age. All contractors should be vetted and checked out with the local state agencies who license contractors. Also determine whether they are bonded. Always keep a portion of the contract in reserve until the project is completed to your satisfaction. Many of the scams that your folks may be subject to are derived from solicitations received in the mail or long distance phone calls. With regard to the mail, it may be wise to have it forwarded to a family member for their review. This can be coordinated with the family member who oversees the bill paying activity. The Internet is another area of concern. Many scams involve the World Wide Web. If your folks use the Internet, then there are ways to protect them from unwanted solicitations. Make certain they hire a computer expert who can install the appropriate software in order to protect them from Internet scammers. There are ways to protect your family members from Robo callers. There are ways to block these calls and protect your family members from telemarketers.

No strategy is absolutely foolproof and here is no substitute for frequent interaction with your parents. Face to face contact in their home is crucial to thwarting those who engage in elder fraud and scamming.


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