We all want the seniors in our lives to be safe from scams, but it's not always easy to know how to help. Here are seven tips that should come in handy.
Apr 25, 2017
As Deb Hipp and her mom can attest, scams targeting the elderly are a growing concern. Seniors and their families lose upwards of $3 billion a year to financial fraud. Home Instead Senior Care has created a public education program to help protect your older loved ones from fraud. Some tips:
Shred financial documents, including bank and credit card statements (once they’ve been reviewed), credit card offers and receipts. Store tax returns and other documents that need to be saved in a safe deposit box.
Remind seniors to never give out personal information over the phone unless they initiated the call. They can tell unsolicited callers, “I don’t give money to or buy from people I don’t know. Send something in writing.” Visit donotcall.gov to add seniors to the National Do Not Call registry or call (888) 382-1222 from the phone you want to register.
Be careful with the mail. To prevent theft, don’t let incoming mail sit in the box for a long time. Encourage loved ones to opt for direct deposit, so benefits checks go straight to the bank. Drop bill payment envelopes into a postal collection box.
Teach loved ones about cyber safety and online scams. Some of the latest include: bogus tech support (pretending to offer computer services), tax scams (the IRS doesn’t initiate contact with people via email, text message or social media) and fake debt collectors. Practice good onlinesafety habits. Use strong passwords (with 12 or more characters and a mix of letters, numbers and symbols). Keep security software current. Turn on spam filters for email accounts. For more on cyber security, go to protectseniorsonline.com.
Look out for new “best friends.” Lonely or isolated seniors are vulnerable to criminals who befriend them and provide companionship. Ask to talk to a new friend to find out more.
Watch for unusual financial activity or lifestyle changes. After being scammed, seniors may be embarrassed and try to hide what happened.
Find trustworthy helpers if you can’t be with your loved one regularly. Helpers could be neighbors, friends, relatives or faith community members. Hire professional caregivers who are bonded and insured through an agency that conducts thorough background checks, such as Home Instead Senior Care. Call (866) 996- 1085 or go to homeinstead.com/guideposts for a free consultation.
For more on helping your older loved ones stay safe, visit protectseniorsfromfraud.com.
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