Our senior population loses billions of dollars every year to scam artists and fraudulent schemes, but it doesn’t have to happen. We can protect our older relatives against people who specifically target them because they’re older and more likely to fall victim to fraud. This is especially true if your parents or grandparents live alone or if they live somewhere you’re unable to check in on them regularly. But how can you help them avoid being defrauded?
First of all, it’s important not to threaten them or treat them like children. Don’t warn them that you’ll get power of attorney or guardian ad litem if they don’t listen. Don’t yell or berate them. All this will do is cause them to rebel and fight for their independence. Here are some ways to work with your relatives to help them take the power back.
If your parents tell you about a letter or email they received that seems too good to be true, tell them to think through the logic. Did they enter a contest? Does it make sense to pay money to get additional money? Why would anyone call and arbitrarily ask for personal information? Why would someoneneed your bank information?
Evoke the Lessons You Learned:
Take the time to bring up the lessons they taught you years ago. Some things are too good to be true. Don’t trust strangers, especially if you have no reason to trust where they’re coming from or who they are. Double-check and triple-check anytime you spend money, especially if someone you don’t know is asking for it.
Switch Things Up:
Get excited for them – ask how you can make money too. Start pretending to get details so you can take “advantage” of this “amazing opportunity,” a level of enthusiasm that should prompt your parents to get a little perspective. This can help them reassess the decision they’re making, and you can let them talk you out of it, and then do the same to them.
Encourage Them To Help Others:
Instead of shaming, tell your parents that the more information they have, the more helpful they can be to others who might fall for the frauds or scams. They could be a valuable resource to authorities and anyone else who has been victimized.
Get Passive Access:
If you can set up access to their accounts and credit cards, you can keep your eyes open for any suspicious activity. This will allow you to keep an eye on things from a distance and maybe catch fraud or a scam before it gets too out of hand.
Remove Some of the Potential for Risk:
You can take steps to make it harder for scammers to reach your parents. Unlist their phone numbers, even disconnecting a land line. Put their address on an opt-out list. Check credit reports frequently. And if you have an in-home care provider for your parents, check with them to see if they’ve been getting unusual calls, or a lot of junk mail.
With a little consideration, careful conversation, and reverse psychology, you can help your elder relatives from becoming a victim. Ideally, this will teach you lessons you’ll carry with you into your senior years as well!