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Protecting Your Elderly Loved Ones From Fraud

They protected you from all the dangers that lurked while you were too young to care for yourself. Now, it’s your turn. Protecting your elderly loved ones from fraud is going to take time and it’s going to require you to always stay on top of the latest types of fraudulent activity.

The elderly continue to fall victim to everything from fake prize winning scams to poor water quality and health test results. They’re frequently the target of investment scams, home repair scams, unnecessary property transfers, and bogus lottery drawings. And strangers aren’t the only people taking advantage of your loved ones. Friends and family members have been known to participate in this type of activity, too.

Today, telemarketing scams are the main forms of fraudulent activity targeted at seniors. Older individuals spend most of their time at home, often alone, so they’re easily reached. Their polite nature and quite possibly their loneliness make it difficult to just say “No” to the person on the other end of the line. To make matters even worse, scam artists are smooth talkers and they’re fast talkers, too. They spend a great deal of time practicing not only their pitches but also their responses to all forms of buyer resistance.

One helpful step might be to add their number to the Do Not Call Registry (https://www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca/index-eng). Since you likely don’t have time to answer the phone each time it rings, you need to teach your loved ones how to identify potential telemarketing scams. While you’re at it, teach them how to put an end to these types of calls, too.

Here are a few of the “red flags” that can help seniors identify potential fraudulent activity:

  • Phrases such as “Act Now!” and “Free Gift” and requests to “send your bank (or credit card) account number for verification or so that your winnings can be sent directly to your account” usually indicate scams.
  • Teach your elderly loved ones to tell callers they’re on “Do Not Call List” and to politely hang up the phone the moment any of these words/phrases are mentioned.
  • Teach them how to report the caller to authorities if the calls persist. One way in which a caring home care specialist can help in this situation is to keep an eye on who is calling and raise alerts when it appears that fraudulent activity might be taking place.
  • Learn more now about what senior care options are available.
  • Teach your loved ones the dangers of acting impulsively and why taking time to check into each scenario more carefully is so important.
  • Remind them that you’re available to help figure out what’s legitimate and what’s not, and then if your assistance is requested, be sure to give it. Remember to treat your elderly loved ones with respect. Don’t humiliate or treat them like children.

The types of red flags mentioned above are also appearing on the Internet. The downside of seniors learning how to use the Internet is that it’s another effective way scam artists can target this group. Protecting your elderly loved ones from fraud involves making them aware of the dangers that lurk on the Internet and teaching them that the Internet is not the place to give out personal information.

FRAUD VICTIM RESOURCES:

If you know a senior that has been a victim of fraud, be sure to report the act immediately. Contact the following agencies for more information:

  • Industry Canada’s Consumer Information Department –
    http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/ic1.nsf/eng/h_00071.html – This department contains services, tools and resources available for consumers related to fraud, telephone scams, debt problems, product and food recalls.
  • Canadian Better Business Bureau –
    www.bbb.org/canada –The BBB’s mission is to promote and foster the highest ethical relationship between businesses and the public through voluntary self-regulation, consumer and business education, and service excellence. You can find your local office on the BBB’s Web site.
  • The National Fraud Information Center –
    www.fraud.org or (800) 876-7060 – The NFIC is a project of the National Consumers League and was designed to help people learn about fraud and file complaints. Additional information about how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud is listed on their Web site
  • Canadian Association of Retired Persons –
    www.carp.ca – CARP provides seniors with information on financial planning, using home equity, avoiding fraud, and consumer rights.

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