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Tips to Avoid Financial and Telephone Scams Against the Elderly

A senior man using a telephone and avoiding senior scams.

Senior abuse comes in many different forms, but one that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves is the risk of financial elder abuse. In fact, financial elder abuse is actually the most common form of abuse in aging adults. Financial crimes against the elderly can come in the form of telephone scams, mail fraud, or even money being taken from family members. 

The government has taken some great strides in fighting for the end of online and telephone scams targeting the elderly, but there is still a long way to go. In the meantime, there are ways you and your loved one can work to protect yourselves from fraud and becoming another statistic. 

5 Strategic Ways to Avoid Scams Against the Elderly

Seniors with little money or limited incomes are often preyed upon by con artists who are tech-savvy and know how to get seniors to share personal information. By educating yourself and your loved one, you can both be more vigilant against financial elder abuse and stop it before it happens in your household.

1.  Never Give Out Personal Information

This is a big one. It can be easy to be fooled into thinking it’s a credit card company, social security, or some other reputable financial institution calling for information. In most instances, these types of companies will never ask for personally-identifying information over the phone. If you are being asked to share your personal information through the mail or over the phone, do so with caution.

2.  Stay in Touch With Family

In recent years, telephone scams targeting the elderly have been popping up where individuals pretend to be relatives or close friends asking for money. Never wire money over the phone and never give money without consulting trusted family members first. By staying in touch with your family, you will more easily spot these scams before you fall victim.

3. Choose a Caregiver You Trust

Whether you trust an adult child or some other relative or family friend with your personal finances, it’s important you feel comfortable that they have your best interests at heart. At-home caregiver fraud is more common than you might expect, so it’s important to only entrust your finances with someone you know well.

4. Make Smart Purchases

Shopping online has become a valuable asset, especially for seniors who aren’t mobile or don’t drive. Be sure when you are using your credit card online to make purchases, you are only shopping from reputable companies. Look for trust indicators on websites, only shop using secure checkouts, and consider using a lower-limit credit card exclusively for online purchases.

5.  Block Solicitations

By screening your calls and only answering numbers you trust, you can avoid falling victim to telephone scams targeting the elderly. You can also register your address with the Direct Marketing Association’s mail preference system to opt out of unsolicited mail that could be trying to scam you. 

Legislators and law enforcement are working to end online fraud and telephone scams. However, technology makes it easy for scammers to pivot their approach to find new ways to target the elderly and most vulnerable individuals. Do your part to protect yourself and your loved one by making smart decisions regarding your personal information and finances.

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