When people think about their legacy, they are typically thinking about maximizing the gifts and inheritances they can leave for their family. Unfortunately, these plans are sometimes jeopardized, too often by scam artists who target the elderly.
These scams can have severe financial consequences, affecting a person’s estate and planning goals. If you have elderly parents, you should know how you can help them identify and avoid fraudulent schemes.
Open lines of communication
One of the most important things a child can do to help a parent avoid falling victim to a scam is to be available for questions. As this article notes, keeping communication open and non-judgmental can make it easier for an elderly parent to ask their child about suspicious emails, calls, or letters.
Know who has access to their finances
Even if you do not have power of attorney or access to a parent’s financial accounts, know who does and ensure that these parties are trustworthy. And if a parent is the only person with access and you fear he or she may lack the capability to manage complicated financial data or make responsible choices, talk to him or her about working with someone who can oversee things and spot any unusual activity.
Give them the tools they need
Elderly parents did not grow up with email, robo-callers, or cellphones. They also grew up in a time of different rules for etiquette. Because of this, they can be too trusting or easily duped into thinking an email or phone scam is legitimate.
Children can give parents tools that allow them to feel comfortable and secure. This might include leaving a script for them by the phone for how to politely respond to unknown callers seeking personal information. Children could also help set up secure email accounts, teach a parent how to dispose of personal and financial information properly, and keep parents up-to-date on common tricks.
Scammers often target elderly people because of their unfamiliarity with technology and their trusting nature. With your help, your own parents may avoid these fraudulent schemes.