No one wants to see their elderly loved ones fall victim to a crime. Yet, older adults are disproportionately targeted by fraudulent scams. In fact, in 2021, more than 92,000 victims over the age of 60 reported losses of $1.7 billion to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). This represents a 74 percent increase in losses over 2020. Losing money or possessions to scams, fraud, and exploitation can be especially devastating to older adults, who may not be able to earn back what they’ve lost. In most cases, though, scams can be prevented before they start — and, as a caregiver, you can encourage your loved ones to take steps to protect themselves against fraud.
1. Appoint a trusted contact for accounts and investments. Your loved one can contact his bank or brokerage or visit its website for information on how to add you as a trusted contact. A bank or financial institution will then be able to reach out to you about questionable activity. Similarly, if your loved one gives you view-only access, you can help him monitor transactions on his accounts to be sure there isn’t any fraudulent activity.
2. Sign up for a service that tracks bank accounts, investments and credit cards. Tools such as EverSafe and LifeLock can provide your loved one with frontline protection in detecting scams, fraud and identity theft. These services can also be set up to notify a trusted contact of potential fraud. Some services may even offer support in reporting and recouping any losses.
3. Stay in touch. Reminding your loved one of what to look out for can go a long way in safeguarding his financial security. Encourage him to consult you before making big financial decisions. It’s also a good idea to tell him not to answer calls from numbers he doesn’t recognize, in order to avoid possible scams.
If your loved one does fall victim to elder fraud, it’s important to report the incident right away, even if you don’t have all the details. You may file a complaint with the IC3 by visiting ic3.gov or by contacting your local Adult Protective Services office. The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Elder Fraud Hotline (833-372-8311) is also a great resource and can help guide you through reporting procedures.
It can be natural to experience feelings of frustration if your loved one is the target of a scam. However, it’s important to have empathy. Chances are that he already feels regret and may even be embarrassed. If you remain calm, it will increase the likelihood that your loved one will alert you to suspicious contact in the future, rather than keeping silent about it.
To learn more about common elder abuse scams, we invite you to attend Senior Care Network’s Noon Hour lecture “Don’t Be Scammed!” on Wednesday, June 28, 2023.
Are you a family caregiver? Senior Care Network is here to help. We offer professional assistance; referrals to important resources; and support and educational groups specifically designed for family caregivers. For more information, call us at (626) 397-3110 or (800) 664-4664. You may also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources: AARP; FBI; IC3; and U.S. Department of Justice.