Senior adults are often the target of unscrupulous people trying to get something from them. As their loved ones, we want so much to keep them out of harm’s way, especially when it’s the parents who protected us from the world a lifetime ago.
Unfortunately, seniors are often easy prey for these criminals. Scam artists find our elders polite people who will talk with them easily and freely even though they are strangers. Older adults often find it difficult to say no to anyone or to disappoint them. They may also feel like they need to thank everyone, even someone who is dubious, for being kind or giving them “free” advice. Many seniors also are interested in making their money work harder for them and growing it to cover their retirement needs. A particularly cruel scam preys on the seniors’ love for family and aging memories, with callers claiming to be children or grandchildren in a jam and needing money immediately.
Yes, crooks can be creative, unfortunately, in their efforts to separate our aging loved ones from their money. Law enforcement officials work hard to stop it but it may be up to us to be sure it’s not our family that falls victim.
Fight Scams & Protect Seniors’ Savings
- Ask questions! Ask your senior about people they meet or on what they are spending their money. You may need to gain access to their financial accounts just to provide oversight. Encourage your senior to just say NO or at least to say they need to think about it or discuss it with others. That alone can discourage the crooks.
- When thinking about investing their money, no matter the amount, remind your seniors to take their time and not rush into anything. Criminals are usually trying to get their money quickly without being asked for specifics. There is something amiss if your senior is being pressured to SEND MONEY NOW. There is no once in a lifetime investment to hurry to join.
- If your senior has a company with which they do want to invest, help them do research on the company, including its business, history and financial statements. Do they know the people in the company or just the scam artist?
- Con artists often sound very believable and professional when looking to convince your senior to ‘invest’. Remind your senior not to be fooled by smooth talking, sharp dressed criminals without doing all the homework to find out about them. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are no sky-high guaranteed returns or profits, only risk.
- If the person with whom your senior is doing business is using their fears for retirement financing, healthcare expenses or their health to trick them into investing, the red flags should be waving. Warn them to stay away from anyone telling them “this is for you only, don’t tell anyone about the deal”.
- Avoid unsolicited offers. If your senior did not seek out the information, beware!
- Keep track of all your seniors’ investments or help them to do so thoroughly. Don’t allow a financial institution to handle it all without any accountability. They may not see what you see or know your parents as you do.
- You should be concerned if your senior is told they can’t access their money, either principal or profits, or see the portfolio. It could mean the money has been removed by a scammer or that a legitimate broker is transacting for their own interests over that of your loved one.
- If you or your senior feels that something is not right with whomever they have invested hard earned money, don’t be afraid to speak up – - and file a complaint if needed. Often seniors will hide losses due to scams out of embarrassment and/or fear they will be seen as incompetent to manage their own affairs.
- Remember, as your senior loved one begins using the internet more, that fraud via the web is a growing business. Building a fake website is quick and easy for criminals. Emails asking for money or for personal information that can be used to steal identities look all too real and convincing. Help your senior discern what is real and not real. A bank or credit card will not contact them through the email asking them for confidential information such as their social security number.
- Remind EVERYONE to be very cautious (if ever) giving out personal information over the internet or phone. Companies they know will understand if someone wants to give personal information only when they have initiated the call themselves. Make sure that call is made using a number the senior already has or one that is published publicly rather than a number provided by the caller.
Offer to help your senior loved one to thoroughly investigate anyone with whom they wish to invest any money. Ask questions and expect sound answers. Steer clear of fraud!