If you have an elderly family member who you are worried is at risk of falling victim to financial fraud, it’s important to take necessary precautions to know they are safe from potential fraud. By making sure they are aware, on their guard, protected, and that they know how to deal with potential scam situations, they are much less likely to get scammed. But if they do get scammed, they are unlikely to report it, so check up on elerly loved ones regularly. Senior financial abuse is severely underreported; a 2011 AARP study reports that only 25% of fraud victims over the age of 55 reported that they’d fallen victim to a scam to authorities. By following the tips below, you may help your senior avoid the potential devastation of financial fraud and the physical and emotional consequences that follow with it.
- Sit down with your elderly family member and go over the scams that they could potentially come across that they need to be aware of, such as telemarketing scams, mail scams, internet scams, email scams, etc.
- Add Caller ID to their home phone.
- Add your senior to the National Do Not Call Registry, and inform them that if any solicitor or telemarketer calls you, you can tell them that you’re on the list and that if they call again you will file a complaint against them.
- Make sure that your family member understands to never give out any kind of personal information to anyone unfamiliar over the phone, by email, by mail, on the internet or to a door-to-door solicitor.
- Put a “No Solicitors” sign in the senior’s front yard.
- Insist that the senior never pay for anything over the phone, and if they are shopping online to make sure the company is legitimate first with the Better Business Bureau before making any purchases.
- Make sure your loved one checks out any company with the Better Business Bureau before acting on anything they receive in the mail, a phone call, or agrees to a visit at their home.
- Invest in a shredder for the senior and shred anything containing any personal information before throwing away.
- Make sure your family member never gives any money to any supposed charity except to a list of legitimate ones you go over with them and the only ways to donate to those charities, and never over the phone.
- Any important documents and valuables in the house keep in a secure locked box.
- Watch out for new friends and caregivers of the senior, do background checks and make sure you talk to your loved one about the dangers and warning signs.
- Invest in working locks on doors and windows, and a home security system or surveillance camera.
- Add a lock to your family member’s mailbox, and instruct them to send important letters by dropping them off at the post office instead of putting them in the mailbox with the red flag up.
- Watch for changes in the senior’s lifestyle; the vast majority of senior fraud victims are too embarrassed or scared to report the fraud, or don’t know how.
- If you can’t be there for your loved one, talk to close, trusted family members or trustworthy people to act as extra ears and eyes for the senior.
- Make sure your elderly family member is visited often by family or close friends, and isn’t isolated or feels overly lonely or depressed.
If you would like to learn more about how our caregivers can help your loved one prevent senior fraud, give us a call at (805) 934-0600 or email us via our contact form.