Your aging parents could be a prime target for any number of the many scammers out there that prey on innocent and vulnerable people. Our aging population is an ideal demographic for scams because cognitive function may be impaired, they may be less aware of new technology that makes some scams very convincing and they more easily believe claims that are simply too good to be true.
While the threat of being scammed is very scary, especially for adult children who are looking out for their aging parents, the good news is there are ways you can take a stand and stay in the know so that you can spot red flags as soon as they arise and help guide your aging loved one away from a scam before it takes place. Take a look at these tips for protecting a friend or family member from scams.
Foremost, you don’t know what you don’t know. If you’re not able to check in on your parents regularly to monitor their mail and the types of phone calls and emails they are receiving, you may leave them open to engaging with scammers. If you live close by, be sure to visit regularly to make note of any suspicious behaviors or interactions you parents may seem to have with outside contacts. If you’re not local, ask a neighbor, friend or professional caregiver to the do the same. The more involved you remain, the sooner you can put an end to scam-like activity before it becomes serious.
Help Them Think Through the Reality of the Situation
One of the best things you can do is help your aging loved one take a step back and examine the reality and probability of the situation. Remind them of simple truths such as you can’t win a contest you never entered and you never have to pay money to collect lottery winnings. Explain the way things work as well as current laws that make such actions illegal. With a dose of common sense, and your reinforcement, your aging loved one is more likely to see the reality of the situation.
Don’t Spread Shame or Blame
Even if you become angry or disappointed by your parents’ actions, never shame or blame them. Scammers are very convincing and persistent, sometimes even hostile! Keep in mind that they may have harassed your parents to the point of complying. Instead, focus on finding solutions and justice. How can you immediately put an end to the scammers’ contacting your parents? Who can you call to report this activity and possibly work to get their money back? Rather than focusing on shame or blame, focus on preventing this from happening again.
Use Reverse Psychology
Many have found reverse psychology to help an aging loved one understand when a scam is taking place. If your aging parent or loved one claims that they’ve been offered a “double your money” guarantee, ask them how you can get in on the offer and do the same. Most often, they want to protect you, like you want to protect them, and in explaining the details of the offer, they realize the holes and risk that exist.
Empower Them to Help Others
If your aging parent or loved one does fall victim to a scam, work to find ways that their story and experience can be shared with others as a cautionary tale. Report the incident to higher authorities and take to social media. Warn people about the details of what took place and you will find that others will be grateful for the advice and may even have some advice of their own to share.
Ask for Oversight
Finally and most importantly, have the conversation with your parent about why it might be a good idea for you to have oversight of their bank accounts, bills, phone records and mail. This may feel uncomfortable at first, as your loved one may wish to keep their independence as long as possible. However, if the scamming won’t seem to stop, and your loved one is not capable of making good decisions on their own, the best thing you can do is explain that it’s truly out of love and care for them that you wish to take on this role. Work to set boundaries that everyone feels comfortable with.
Do you have a loved one that has been a victim of a scam? Or do you have another piece of advice to share that may prevent this from happening? Join in the conversation by sharing your experience below!