How can I help protect my aging parents from abuse or scams?

Elder Abuse - Fraud, Scams, ID Theft

Elder Abuse - Fraud, Scams, ID TheftThe Elderly Are Vulnerable To Criminals

Unscrupulous people purposely target seniors and will abuse or take advantage of them if they can.  So problematic is senior fraud that many counties throughout the nation now have a senior crimes unit to investigate and handle crimes against the elderly.

One of the main reasons that senior citizens are so vulnerable to scam artists is that older people are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists.  According to the FBI’s website, “People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.”

How You Can Help Protect Senior Citizens From Becoming Crime Victims

To help protect an older person from being a victim of fraud, abuse, or scams, consider doing the following:

  • Learn about the types of elder abuse and neglect and associated warning signs.
  • Get on the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce telemarketing calls. Visit or call 888-382-1222 to register your phone number.
  • If you are offered a “prize,” “loan,” “investment,” etc. that sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.
  • Consult with someone you trust before making a large purchase or investment. Don’t be pressured or intimidated into immediate decisions.
  • Don’t sign any documents that you don’t completely understand without first consulting an attorney, family member, or close friend that you trust.
  • Do not provide personal information (social security number, credit card number, etc.) over the phone unless you initiated the call and you know with whom you are speaking.
  • Tear up or shred credit card receipts, bank statements, and financial records before disposing of them in the trash.
  • If you hire someone for personal assistance services, in home care services, etc. ensure that they have been properly screened with criminal background checks completed.

More Information And Resources

  • To find out more about specific scams, you can read the FBI’s list of the most common scams and schemes that target seniors, including telemarketing fraud, identity theft, and advance fee scams.

Source: Department of Health and Human Services, National Center On Elder Abuse

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