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September 19, 2018

How to Protect Seniors from Scams

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With identity theft and fraud a constant feature of the news cycle, there are few people who are not at risk of falling prey to some kind of scam. Since criminals often single out seniors for an attack, special care must be taken to avoid serious financial troubles. Are you and your loved ones secure against potential harm? Here’s how seniors can guarantee their financial security in dangerous times.

Scams that put seniors at risk

In just a few short years, financial transactions moved from being handled exclusively in-person and with physical documents to being managed almost entirely by electronic means. Though the rapid change is enough to confuse anybody, criminals often take advantage of the elderly and infirm, a phenomenon that has become so commonplace that the FBI has a special department dedicated to combating such crimes. Protecting yourself and your family from these criminals starts with a few simple steps.

1. Be alert to common scams

Though scams come in all shapes and sizes, there are a few common trademarks shared by many. For example, tax season is a particularly dangerous time, as scammers will call homes and claim to represent the IRS, demanding sensitive financial information under the threat of legal action. Such attacks, however, might happen at any time of year, and there is one universal rule that protects you in all cases: never share private information with someone who cannot verify their identity.

2. Keep accurate records

The first reason that criminals target seniors is that they know many such crimes will go unnoticed. Due to decreased cognitive function, many seniors are unaware that they have fallen victim to a scam until too much time has passed to take action. If financial documents are closely watched by several family members, however, any problems will be noticed quickly.

3. Consider using a power of attorney

Though many older adults are capable of handling their own financial matters (perhaps with a caring family member to review their records), in many cases it is best to transfer legal and financial power of attorney to a trusted loved one. By doing so, you limit the scope of potential scams to relatively small levels.

4. Beware of “free” offers

Some of the most dangerous scams are those that are not technically illegal, as there may be no way to recover any money that is lost. Scammers know that seniors are less likely to remember to cancel a membership or subscription, and they use this knowledge to take of the elderly with “free” trials and subscriptions that then convert into a monthly fee. If you believe that a loved one might fall victim to such a scam, you should be sure to check their bank statements and credit card bills every month to verify every recurring payment.

5. Use a shared email account

Email allows criminals to send out thousands of identical messages at once; if they can get even personal to take the bait, their efforts are well worth it. Since electronic communication may be poorly understood by seniors, they are often at risk from such schemes. In order to protect them from communicating with unknown individuals (and possibly sharing fund or personal information that could bring them harm), you can open a shared account with a password that is known by you. By reviewing their correspondence, you can ensure that no one takes advantage of their kindness.

Looking for Home Care Options?

While caution is needed, your elderly loved ones can live a safe and satisfying live with the proper care. At Fedelta Home Care, we specialize in crafting tailor-made home care plans for families in need. If you or a loved one is interested in some of our diverse services, contact us today.