As people begin to age they are more likely to be victims of a scam. Older people are targeted at a higher rate because of their vulnerability, wanting to feel like they are still in control, and the illusion of making money when they are on a fixed income.
Scams come at them from all directions: email, mail, and phone. Older people are often more trusting than younger generations, which leads to the higher rate of them being targeted. If you have concerns about your aging parents, there are steps you can take to help them:
1 – Have the Conversation
The first step to helping protect your aging parents is to talk openly with them. Let them know they are prime targets for scammers. Explain the various ways they could be scammed, such as by getting a letter saying they won a contest or a phone call that sounds like it’s a relative who needs money to get out of jail.
The more informed they are, the easier it will be to help them avoid scammers.
2 – Protect Personal Information
Explain the importance of protecting their personal information and never giving it out to anyone. Tax scammers will pose as an agent from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in an effort to get personal information, like social security numbers, so they can then use those numbers to open credit accounts and access bank accounts.
Remind them the IRS already has their information so they wouldn’t need to ask for it. Emails and texts will often ask for the recipient to verify personal information in an effort to get the information so it can be used against them. It’s also a good idea to not click on any links that suspicious emails contain – it could be a virus that enables the hacker to get personal information.
3 – Stop Unsolicited Advertisements and Phone Calls
To cut down on junk mail, such as credit card offers, go to www.optoutprescreen.com and register their name and address. The same goes for unwanted phone calls. The National Do Not Call Registry is free and will help to stop annoying phone calls from telemarketers.
It won’t stop some organizations or debt collectors, but it’s a good website to register with to cut down on unsolicited calls.
4 – Help Review Bank and Credit Card Accounts
Spending just a few minutes each month reviewing bank statements and credit card accounts can lead to discovering any questionable transactions. The same is true for credit reports. Everyone is allowed one free credit report from each of the big three reporting agencies, Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. Reviewing them once a year will help to see if any false activity has occurred.
5 – Consider Taking Control of Their Finances and Health Decisions
As parents get older they may need more than just reminders and help reviewing their statements. If this is the case, it might be time to think about getting a durable power of attorney, which will let you make financial decisions for them.
A health care proxy is a legal document that allows you to make health care decisions when your parents are no longer able to. Another important document they need is a last will and testament. This is where they will determine which of their possessions and assets will go to whom. In Texas, a will must be written, signed by the person, and witnessed by two people over the age of 14, who the courts would deem credible. Although a notary isn’t required, having the will notarized can speed up the court process.
6 – If Fraud has Already Taken Place
No one wants to feel foolish, but having been the target of a scam can mean just that. If your parents have already fallen for one, don’t make them feel guilty. Scammers do this for a living and are good at it, so it’s no surprise many people will fall for it.
If this has happened, immediately contact the credit bureaus and let them know. Call local police to file an identity theft report. Contact their bank and any impacted creditors and let them know what has happened. Put a freeze on the credit report so that no more damage can be done.
If You Think it’s Time for an Assisted Living Facility, Senior Living Specialists Can Help
At Senior Living Specialists, we offer home care and assisted living to senior citizens in the Dallas area. We are recognized for our caring, compassionate professionals who provide experienced health care for your loved ones. Contact us at (214) 929-5055 or fill out our contact form and one of our knowledgable staff will contact you.