Scams and financial fraud are ever-present. And as citizens we should be aghast at how many people are affected. What galls me most is how many of these scams play directly to our senior population. Many older people don’t have that built-in suspicion the rest of us have since they grew up in a more innocent time when you could actually leave your door unlocked. And many don’t have the technological savvy to know what they can and cannot do when they get on their computers or cell phones.
A recent survey from the Investor Protection Trust found that over 7 million seniors had been scammed. That’s about 20% of the American population over 65. Scandalous.
The good news is that there is a movement to address this. The Prevent Elder Financial Abuse Call-in Program was created to help our parents avoid being ripped off. Several organizations have sponsored this program and set up telephone hotlines to help. Here are the numbers to call if you have concerns or questions:
- General finance questions: (888) 227-1776
- Medical questions: (888) 303-0430
- Financial abuse: (888) 303-3297
But as children of aging parents, there are other things we can and must do to prevent our parents from being victims.
- Talk to your parents about these conmen calling or emailing with great opportunities. Warn them and remind them that “if it sounds too good to be true, it IS too good to be true.
- Talk to your parents about protecting their online activity. Be sure there are anti virus software programs on their computers and remind them to never give out their credit card info on a link they received in an email. If unsure, they should separately go to the website they are purchasing from, not the link they got in the email.
- Be a snoop! I don’t mean pry into their personal files or drawers. But pay attention and ask a lot of questions about what they’re doing on the computer, where they’re investing, how they’re investing, and beg them to tell you about any opportunities they are considering investing in.