December 17, 2014

Scams and The Elderly: Signs To Watch For

A few months ago I wrote about hackers and their ability to make our life difficult. Another concern is the assault on the elderly by those perpetuating scams of various types. As is often the case the most vulnerable are the most likely targets.

The folllowing information was supplied by TrueLink, a service that helps protect folks from this type of indignity. I found the list worth presenting to you.


Red Flags That Your Aging Relative is Suffering from Financial Exploitation

1. Missing funds – This is the obvious one. If mom is a victim of elder financial exploitation – whether it's by a family member, a fraud ring, or a predatory marketing scheme – she's going to have less money as a result. Watch for unpaid bills or extra credit cards lying around, and keep an eye on the gifts being given during the holidays. If she’s giving dramatically less or dramatically more this year compared to last year, it could be time to have a conversation and check out her finances.

2. Lots of phone calls from telemarketers – Telemarketers know that older adults are particularly vulnerable to their tactics. And once they discover a viable target the calls can come nonstop, even if your parent is on a Do Not Call list. Take note of how many calls come during your visit. You may be surprised to find out that telemarketers call your parent more often than you or the grandkids do. Every one of those calls is a financial mishap waiting to happen.

3. New friends – All too often these senior entrapment schemes rely on the perception that the senior is susceptible, isolated, or even lonely. This is a tactic used by con artists, malicious caregivers, predatory telemarketers, and deceptive infomercial offers alike – "Just get the senior talking!" The more they build a trusting relationship, the more likely they are to get their money. If someone is suddenly spending a lot of time with mom or dad, get to know who the person is and what the nature of the relationship is. It might be a good time to do a quick review of their bank accounts and credit cards.

4. Small clues in conversations – Sometimes if dad says something that doesn't quite make sense, you just brush over it. He mentions a grandson's trip to Mexico and you think to yourself "oh, he must mean Florida and got confused." However, he could be talking about falling victim to the grandparent scam, in which someone posing as a relative in a tough situation cons the elderly person into wiring money abroad.

5. Unusual gifts - Family is often the most important thing to a senior, and so “gifts for family members” are often used as bait for financial entrapment by deceptive merchants. They might offer four for the price of one as part of a misleading sales pitch, and then the other three become gifts for family members. Or a sweepstakes or lottery winnings fraud will claim that a senior is going to get to take their family on an exciting trip abroad.

6. Secrecy – Seniors suffering from financial entrapment often feel fear or shame about the situation they are in. If mom or dad suddenly doesn't want to talk about money anymore, that's exactly the time when maybe you should be having a conversation about money.


“Family caregivers know best when something just doesn’t seem right,” says Kai Stinchcombe, whose company, True Link (www.truelinkfinancial.com) offers a service that prevents such financial exploitation. True Link offers a Visa debit card that allows caregivers to set spending limits for specific vendors, receive alerts about unusual purchases, or block suspicious purchases all together."





Satisfying Retirement presents this information for informational purposes only and has no connection to TrueLink nor is the publication an implied endorsement of their services. Satisfying Retirement has received no compensation for this post


11 comments:

  1. Good cautionary advice . . . and not just for the elderly.

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  2. Great article and many things to be aware of. We got called about our grandchildren about once a month. We ask if their diaper has been changed :)
    A scam that I have noticed on the rise is actually much closer to the elderly person. I have witnessed several grandchildren suddenly "take great interest" in their elderly grand or great grand parent. They then begin to ask for things. They slowly drain life assets, with little knowledge that what they are taking is often the money that sustains the elderly person.
    It is important to have a trusted financial person to watch accounts.
    We already plan on letting our son have access to our financials in ten or so years (late 70's).

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    1. The financial draining of an elderly person's resources by relatives is probably more common than we know, and about as evil and unforgivable an act as I can imagine.

      My dad turned over all his financial controls to me about 8 years ago (early 80's). I take that responsibility seriously. At this point he has absolutely no idea what he owns but knows he never has to worry. That is my payment.

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  3. Steve in Los AngelesFri Dec 19, 08:26:00 PM MST

    Bob - What you said is of vital importance. When my parents were still alive, I was very protective of their personal finances and their investments. My parents brought me into this world and protected me when I was growing up. During my parents' later years, I considered watching their finances of major importance so that they had financial independence, security, and dignity for the rest of their lives.

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    1. We owe it to our parents (or any relative who depends on us) to do the best we can for them.

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  4. Ken's folks needed a lot of help the past few years before Mom went to the nursing center.Now with Dad gone, and Mom in the nursing center, she still needs a steward.Luckily,Ken's youngest brother lives nearby and the other 3 brothers have given him and his wife total leeway, as they have taken the brunt of the hands- on care for so many years.We know that no matter what,Mom will be cared for in the right manner with Bruce and Theresa watching over... NONE of us ,including grandkids, would even consider draining the resources or taking advantage in any way!! YIKES!!! Sad to know this does happen though.

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    1. Yes, the temptation to take advantage speaks to our lowest instincts.....if it wren't enough to worry about scammers and hackers, too.

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  5. We have kids ready to watch over our finances when the time comes. It's a ways off, but already we keep them posted on major expenses. We bought a park model in Tucson last winter, and two of the kids came to visit and to check it out.

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    1. Assuming they are willing to be involved and are responsible individuals, having adult children involved is a real relief as we age. I certainly will trust my kids rather than some unknown financial advisor to have my best interests at heart.

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  6. It really pays to be careful - this reminder can be not just for the elderly but for the young too. Anyhow, it is best to look further on what's in the surface, what the seniors say and do especially in front of you. You should be very involved in their lives too, so that you can do so.

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