My mother was recently involved in an internet dating scam...

1 answer | Last updated: Jun 22, 2010
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother was recently involved in an internet dating scam from Nigeria. She's done with it,but should she be worried they'll come find her or attack her finances?

Expert Answers

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

I describe these types of scams in my new book "The Truth About Avoiding Scams." If your mother has given money to the con artist, that money is lost. However, they are extremely unlikely to seek her out at this point.

In terms of what to do now to protect your mother, here are a few things to consider:

  • If she paid them anything with a credit card or a check, close the accounts and start new ones. Otherwise, they can use that information to steal from her accounts, or steal her identity and ruin her credit.
  • Put passwords on your mother's accounts. Her bank and other financial institutions will help her do this.
  • Consider getting your mother a credit freeze, which is now available in all states. With a credit freeze, you are able to restrict access to your credit report unless you have specifically authorized access. This will prevent an identity thief who may have personal information about her from getting access to her credit to finance large purchases. Anyone can put a credit freeze on their credit records by contacting the three major credit reporting bureaus.