It is a common concern from caregivers with elderly parents in assisted living: how can I protect them from scammers? It is no secret that scammers will often target the elderly when they try to pull these elaborate scams. They will try to take advantage of elderly if they are confused or struggle with technology. As their primary caregiver, there are some steps you can take to help prevent that from happening.
1. Don’t React, Setup Preemptive Alerts
Whatever bank your parent(s) work with regularly, it is important to reach out to them about setting up spending alerts or major changes to the account. You can also see if they offer regular monitoring of credit scores to avoid any issues like their private information being used to apply for credit cards or other assets.
2. Keep Communication Regular
One of the biggest issues that can arise when these scammers reach out is that there hasn’t been regular communication between the caregiver and their elderly loved one. Speak to them regularly and ask if they had spoken with anybody else. If you hear an unfamiliar name or they mention any communication about finances, begin investigating. It is also important to make sure that honesty is the top priority. It is common for the elderly that have been duped by these tricky scammers to feel embarrassed and avoid telling anybody about it. It is important keep open and honest communication to avoid the situation into snowballing.
3. Government Agencies Send Letters, Not Text Messages
It seems common knowledge to most that the IRS will not call you to inform you of a large tax debt that you are owed. It will come in the form of a letter and have official postage from the US government. The same can be said with most of the government agencies. So reiterate and remind your parent that past due taxes or other balances owed to the government won’t alert you by phone calls or texts.
4. Keep A Check on Emails
Emails have become commonplace for the start of many financial scams. If your parent has a lot of their personal information online, it could be smart to hide that behind privacy settings. The more information a scammer has to work with, the more believable they can typically make their initial emails to scare your elderly loved one into providing them banking info or logins.
5. Beware of “New” Friends
The unfortunate reality when dealing with scammers is that they know targeting tenants of an assisted living facility can provide vulnerable victims. If your loved one begins a new friendship with a person that doesn’t live at the care facility and met your loved one “by chance,” keep close tabs on the friendship. It isn’t uncommon for scammers to position themselves as a new friend and begin requesting jewelry or other expensive items to take from your elderly loved one.
6. Establish Power of Attorney
When we meet families that haven’t established a power of attorney with one of the siblings or caregivers, it is something you should look into. The least it can help with is allowing you to communicate with your loved one’s financial institutions and health care providers. It is one more point of protection against scammers trying to gain the upper hand with your elderly parent.
Be diligent and always on the lookout for any kinds of new happenings or events that your parents tell you about. It is important to never make them feel “bad” if they have fallen for an initial scam email or full on duped into giving up personal information. If you make them feel bad about it, they will be less likely to tell you about future happenings.