Protecting your loved one from scams is one of the biggest responsibilities you have as a caregiver for someone in their elder years. With a growing number of seniors every year, scams and scam artists abound. Even if you are careful, savvy consumers can still fall victim, and older individuals in particular are frequent targets of these plans because they are more likely to trust and act politely towards strangers. However, just because more people are attempting to take advantage of your older loved one does not mean that it will necessarily occur. You can take steps that can help prevent scam artists from taking advantage of your elders and protect the ones that you love.
Learn to Spot Common Scams
Scam artists use a variety of different schemes to try and trick seniors into giving up their money or personal information. Internet-based scams, phone calls, direct mailings, broadcast and print advertisements and door-to-door solicitations are all common ways of tricking unsuspecting victims. Having a healthy dose of skepticism when encountering all of these types of circumstances definitely helps, but in particular look out for these common schemes:
· Living trust kits and seminars
If you want to know what types of legal estate planning options are right for you, seek the advice of an estate planning or elder law attorney. Especially be wary of seminars “endorsed” by entities. One common ruse is saying that the seminar is endorsed by the AARP, when in fact they do no such thing.
· “Free meal” financial seminars
Regardless of the product they are selling, these free lunch or free meal seminars always involve very high pressure selling tactics that seniors often fall prey to.
· Unsolicited reverse mortgage offers
Very few, if any, legitimate reverse mortgage company will send you unsolicited information. Do your homework about the company before responding.
· “Free” or “Low cost” vacation deals or prizes
Typically, the scam artist will make you give out your personal information or attend a high pressure sales meeting before receiving your prize, and often those prizes are actually fake or worthless.
· Investment opportunities
Abide by the maxim, “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.”
Other Advice for Avoiding Scams
Never let anyone pressure you or your elderly loved one into making any type of immediate decision. Either tell them no thank you or say that you need time to consider it. If a scam artist is making a phone solicitation, simply hang up or install caller ID to screen for unfamiliar numbers. You can do this both for yourself as well as your loved one and explain that they should only answer for people that they recognize.
There are other ways of determining whether or not someone is trying to trick you into a scam. Always ask for information about the product or entity before giving away money or personal information. Never give out credit card information, Social Security numbers, or bank account information to anyone that you do not know, and independently verify who a person is as well as why they want your information.
The next segment of outsmarting scam artists focuses on ways that you can cut down or eliminate scams before they can even get to you or your elderly loved ones.