How to Protect Older Family Members From Fraud
Common financial scams that target older adults, and ways to avoid them
When it comes to scoping potential victims, experts say con artists tend to look for individuals who are home during the day to answer fraudulent telemarketing calls, retired people who are hoping for one more shot to increase their nest egg, and those who will be too proud to admit they were "had" and report that they were victimized to the authorities.
Sound like anyone you know?
Older adults are widely acknowledged to be frequent targets of financial scammers. According to a recent survey by the Better Business Bureau, nearly 30 percent of all fraud victims are over the age of 65. Don't feel paranoid if you're worried that your parents or other family members may fall victim to fraud -- you're just being prudent.
Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the chances your family will be victims. Here are some of the most prevalent frauds and ways to help protect the people you care about.
Telemarketing fraud is probably the most common scam of all. Shady marketers may call the older adults in your family to hawk investment schemes, vacation clubs, or sweepstakes plans, and then pressure them to sign up immediately because the offer is only good for a limited time. Often these marketers will demand some kind of up-front investment or fee to participate, which is always a red flag that the caller is not on the up-and-up.
You can warn your older family members to not give out any personal information or credit card numbers, or otherwise buy anything from anyone over the phone. Some older people have a harder time hanging up on obnoxious salespeople because they don't want to be rude. If this is the case with your loved ones, get them a phone equipped with Caller ID so that they simply don't have to pick up unless they recognize the number of the caller. Also, make sure their phone number is registered with the national Do Not Call registry, which will significantly cut down -- if not eliminate altogether -- the number of telemarketers calling their home.