The statistics on fraud and older adults are staggering. Did you know that more than 3.5 million older ctims of fraud per year? In addition, older adults, when scammed, are scammed out of more money than younger adults.are vi
The truth is, falling victim to a is not uncommon, so it’s crucial that you do all you can to help protect your .
Fraud doesn’t come in one shape or size. can use a variety of guises to acquire money or steal identities from their victims.
may their victims by:
Posing as professionals
Some fraudsters scam their victims by pretending to be professionals in a variety of fields; carpenters, senior helpers, housekeepers, financial advisors, and more.
While scams seem to be everywhere, there are ways to guard yourself and your loved one from fraudsters. Implementing as many of these steps as possible will decrease your chances of being impacted by fraud.
The first step to protecting your loved one is to educate yourself. Understand what the red flags of scams are:
Pass this information along to your loved one, as you feel is helpful.
Staying up-to-date on recent scams can give you hints on what to look for if your loved one experiences unusual behavior.
The Federal Trade Commission website keeps a list of recent, frequent scams. AARP also offers updates on recent scams.
Plan a time to broach the topic with your loved one.
Choose a time when you can dedicate time to answer their questions and figure out when's a good time for them. Often, it can be helpful to group this conversation into a discussion about long-term plans and legal plans.
If your loved one is willing to share their financial account information with you, many banks offer mobile apps that can allow you to frequently, yet quickly, ensure nothing unusual is happening in the account.
Additionally, apps generally allow you to set up notifications when any unusual activity is spotted.
Secure any financial documentation to protect it if someone were to be doing work in the home.
Protect any sensitive information such as driver’s licenses, bank statements, credit card numbers, and personal health information including date of birth, and tax returns. Consider placing these documents in a safe, but make sure the key stays easily accessible.
All this information could be used by identity thieves. In the event that something malicious does happen, having an updated Power of Attorney will come in handy to help your loved one untangle the impact of the scam.
If your loved one is prone to replying to everything in the mail, talk to the post office about setting up a Post Office box. This will allow you to sort the mail before passing it on.
Send potentially harmful mail back with “Do Not Contact” written on the envelope or card.
On the computer, ensure that your loved one has strong passwords on all online accounts whether it is bank websites or social media accounts.
Keep a paper list of these passwords in a safe place in the event that you need to access the accounts.
Unfortunately, deceased people may still be at risk of identity fraud, otherwise known as “ghosting”.
According to AARP, fraudsters may peruse obituaries and target individuals who have recently passed. AARP also shares that it can take nearly six months for all credit and financial institutions and the Social Security Administration to close accounts.
You can protect your loved one by quickly mailing a copy of their death certificate to major credit institutions. Additionally, when writing your loved one’s obituary do not include personal information. Continue to monitor your loved one’s credit reports after they pass away and keep an eye out for new credit or accounts.
If your deceased loved one has been a victim of identity theft it can make it difficult to close accounts and their estate, so taking precautions is beneficial.
Statistics show that individuals who have fallen victim to a scam are more likely to fall victim to another.
If you learn that your loved one has been scammed, be sure to report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission.
Some people who have been scammed may find it difficult or embarrassing to talk about, but it’s true that it can happen to anyone. Reporting the scam is the best way to protect yourself and others from being targeted in the future.
Laurel McLaughlin has over a decade worth of experience in various sectors of the elder care field- home care, senior living, and non-profits. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is a certified dementia practitioner.
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