If you or your loved one is the victim of fraud or a scam, report it. You can do so by contacting the FBI or the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at 1.800.347.3735.
Our parents are often the victims of elder scams and fraud because they are living on their own (no children) and have just been introduced to Social Security and Medicare. With regular funds and a lot of new information to learn about how you’re getting your money, it’s easier for people to take advantage. That’s not all however.
The older adult children become, the more their relationship with their elderly parent’s changes. As we age, we undergo a role reversal where our parents need to receive care and advice instead of the other way around. For many elderly parents, this is damaging to their pride and they fear losing their independence. As a result, many or our parents fall victim to elder scams because they want to maintain their self-sufficiency… but can’t.
(No one wants to be a burden. Simply reflect on your own life. Have you ever struggled to simply ask your boss for time off? You don’t want to inconvenience people.)
Similarly, many seniors try to fix their problems on their own. They contact contractors and Medicare representatives. Along the way however, they may fall prey to a scam. The worst part however is that most seniors don’t report it.
It’s embarrassing when you’ve been had; duped; given a run for your money. It’s why fraud and elder scams continue to be a problem, there’s a low risk and high reward. When seniors are living on their own especially, the con- and scam artists of the world rejoice because, in all likelihood, the elder only sees their children around holidays and emergencies. This means the elder is not likely to call up their child and unload their recent losses to them. They want their children to be excited to visit, not feel like their vacation is being squandered by working to provide a safe environment for their parents.
Protect Yourself and Your Elder
If your parent was born in the 1950s or earlier, there’s a fair chance they’re not as computer savvy as you. Tell them you’re open to talking about scams and remind them it’s not a burden. Show them how to text so you can give a ‘once over’ to a company they’re thinking of contacting – to be sure it’s not a scam.
Remind them products and services that promise ‘anti-cancer’ properties and increased ‘cognitive function’ may not be legitimate – there is a lot of fraud in the prescription drug world too!
Finally, remind them to report elder scams and fraud should they fall victim to either. It’ll help prevent fraud for them and their children in the future.