Have you ever received a phone call from an unknown number, or even a number that seems local, and they tell you that they have been checking your records or your account and something is wrong? Or what about someone who says an account is past due or you have a bill in collections that must be paid before they garnish your wages? At the time, you probably had a gut feeling that it was a scammer and either hung up the phone or asked them to stop calling you. Unfortunately, not everyone has this inclination and they fall for these scammers. This is especially true for older adults whose cognitive capacity is declining.
The elderly are easy targets for scammers for a number of reasons. For instance:
- They may be naive about common new scamming techniques.
- They may not understand how companies handle matters. For example, the IRS never calls people, but many do not know that.
- They can be lonely and therefore willing to listen to whoever is on the phone or even at their door.
- They tend to be more trusting than younger people.
Scammers have many techniques to make people fall for their scams. The National Council of Aging shares the top 10 scams that seniors fall for. No matter what the scam, typically, they fall under two main methods: being helpful or creating fear. When a fraudster is being helpful, they tend to say that they are saving the person money or preventing them from more harm, or they may recommend a “local company” that will come in and perform home repairs. If they’re not being “helpful”, they are creating fear. They may do things like threatening them with being sued, having their money taken away from them, or claiming that a family member is in danger and in need of money.
Signs Your Elderly Parent Is Being Scammed
It’s not uncommon that someone falls for these scammers as the numbers of scams are rising incredibly fast. Here are some signs that your parent may be a victim of elder fraud.
- Their investment portfolio has changed.
- They have changed Wills, trusts, beneficiaries or powers of attorney out of the blue.
- They are concerned or confused about missing funds.
- They have unusual account withdraws or transfers out of their account.
- They have unexplained money missing from their home.
- They no longer want to discuss financial matters.
How to Address Suspicions of Fraud
If you suspect any of these signs, it’s important that you look further into these matters. If you don’t have the ability to be with your parent(s) because they live far away, you may want to consider hiring a professional organizer that helps with financial matters. If you have an in-home care company helping your parent(s), you may also want to ask them if they have noticed any changes. Lastly, if you suspect that fraud is occurring, call the National Elder Fraud Hotline.