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How To Shield Your Elderly Loved Ones From Scams and Swindles

Scams are everywhere and on the rise!

The elderly are often at high risk of scams simply because they hear “free” and immediately want to sign up. We want to protect our loved ones, but we also want to ensure they don’t feel like we are using them.

There is no shortage of scams targeting the elderly in today’s Internet-based environment. They’re designed to trick them into giving money to criminals by various means — and prevent you from spotting it before it’s too late. 

It’s hard to educate yourself on the different methods unscrupulous individuals use to gain access to your precious family members’ bank accounts and other valuables.

The best way to protect your elderly loved ones from scammers is by learning to identify suspicious phone calls and emails before they can fall victim. 

SOS Alerts

These alerts are sent to your phone or email to tell if your loved one has been in an emergency, like a fall or stroke. They can also be used to notify you if they’ve left home without informing anyone or for your loved ones to use the alert as a panic device if they feel they are being scammed. 

Geo-Fence Alerts

These alerts notify you if your loved one wanders out of their usual location (a designated safe zone), like their home or yard. They can also be used for people with dementia who may wander away from home and become lost or injured.

However, they can also be used to track if your loved one has been scammed into being someplace that isn’t safe for them to be. 

Emails and Phone Calls

Alerts can be sent through email or phone calls when someone uses an ATM or purchases something with an unusual amount of money (like $100 at Walmart). This is an excellent way to protect against skimming devices and other cyber threats against bank accounts, credit cards, and additional personal financial information stored on computers and other devices.

Phishing Scare Tactics

Phishing is one of the most common ways for criminals to steal your personal information. It’s a sneaky trick where someone pretends to be an organization you trust, like your bank or government agency, and sends you an email asking for personal information.

The email usually looks like it’s from the actual organization and might even have their logo on it. But if you read closely, there are usually some red flags that something doesn’t look right.

For example, the email may tell you to click on a link for more details about a product or service you’re interested in — but don’t do it! That link could take you to a website that looks like the real thing but isn’t connected with your bank or other organization.

Once you’re on the fake site, scammers will trick you into giving up sensitive information such as account numbers, passwords, and social security numbers.

If they get this information, they can use it to impersonate you when they try to access your accounts online, steal money from them, or even transfer money out of them without your knowledge!

Know Your Loved One’s Health Issues

It’s essential to make sure that the person you’re caring for is honest about any health issues they may have. This will help you identify any red flags associated with certain types of scams.

For example, suppose your loved one recently had surgery and received a bill from a hospital in another state. In that case, this could be a sign that someone is using their information to file false claims against Medicare or other insurance programs.

You should also ask your loved ones about how they pay bills because this can affect their vulnerability to certain types of scams.

For example, suppose your parent pays bills by sending money through the mail and does not use direct deposit as most financial institutions recommend. In that case, it’s possible that someone could intercept the check and take out large sums of money before it reaches its destination. 

Identity Theft

This is one of the biggest problems for seniors, who have many years’ worth of personal information on file. With a little bit of this information and other details, criminals can steal their identity and use it to open credit cards, obtain loans or even rent apartments.

Financial Abuse

Seniors are often targeted with “advance fee loans,” which means they’re promised nothing for nothing in return — like a loan at no interest or high-interest rate credit cards with low payments — but these offers usually cost them thousands of dollars instead.

Health Insurance Fraud

Seniors often have more than one health insurance provider, making them attractive targets to scammers who want their money. The crooks will claim that they’re from Medicare or Medicaid and insist that your loved one needs to pay them back for services rendered — but it’s all a scam designed to get access to their money.

What To Do If Your Elderly Loved One Has Been Scammed

If your elderly loved one has been a victim of a scam, it’s important to take action immediately. The sooner you take action, the better chance there is that you can recover some or all of your money. 

Here are some steps to take:

  • Report the scam to local law enforcement and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
  • If you can’t get through on the phone, file a complaint online at
  • Contact your bank or credit union and request that they freeze any accounts associated with the scammer’s identity. This will prevent them from accessing any funds in those accounts until the fraud is resolved.
  • If you’re able, gather evidence such as email correspondence between yourself and the scammer or receipts showing transactions made by the scammer using your account information.
Claudio Alegre

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