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Helping People Age with Dignity

Why adult children and their elderly parents need to talk about fraud

The majority of adult children whose senior parents live on their own will go out of their way to ensure that their mother and father are living safely and comfortably. Depending on the circumstances, this could mean little more than daily phone calls, or it could also mean regular visits to perform chores and wellness checks.

Adult children take time out of their busy schedules to do these things not just out of love, but because they know how much their older parent values their home and, perhaps more significantly, their independence.

While this level of devotion is admirable, there is perhaps one area to which adult children need to direct extra attention: their elderly loved susceptibility to fraud. Indeed, one report found that financial abuse of seniors here in the U.S. costs over $36 billion per year.

Compounding the problem further, say experts, is that many older parents who have seen their hard-earned savings taken from them are often reluctant to admit to being scammed owing to both embarrassment and the fear that their adult children will begin to view them as incapable.    

In order to help prevent this from even becoming an issue, experts indicate that adult children should consider having an in-depth discussion with their senior parent about fraudulent conduct of which to remain aware.

A good starting point, they say, is to talk about the following scams, which are frequently used to defraud senior citizens:  

  • Health care scams: This involves individuals calling about purported medical debt, which may seem feasible to seniors given their frequent trips to the doctor's office. Sensitive information such as credit card numbers and Social Security numbers will be requested.
  • IRS scams: In a similar scenario, individuals will call claiming to be government officials seeking to collect a tax debt. Their aggressive tone coupled with their false threats of taking away homes or the homes of their children may cause panicked seniors to turn over their sensitive information.
  • Tech support scams: While many of today's seniors are actually fairly tech savvy, able to text, email and video chat, they are still be susceptible to inadvertent downloads of malware or opening of phishing emails designed to steal their sensitive information.

What all this also serves to underscore is that adult children and their senior parents should give serious consideration to sitting down with an experienced legal professional who can answer questions, explain options and help put a plan in place to protect the loved one's hard-earned assets.

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