SHORT TUTORIAL/FAQ - How can I help prevent my elderly parents from being scammed?
Question: The other day my mom hinted that she was the victim of a scam.
I think she was embarrassed, and I don't want to make her feel
incompetent by offering to help. But I can't just sit back and do
nothing. How do I protect her and my dad without offending them?
You're smart to think about your response before moving forward,
and you're already aware of one of the potential pitfalls of this
situation: making your parents feel bad for being a victim.
Unfortunately, there are many creative scammers out there who have no
problem victimizing people like your parents. They can include
professionals (such as contractors) with ill intentions, "friends" with
ulterior motives, or companies that charge sky-high rates. Fortunately,
you have a number of ways to proceed:
~ Talk about the scam that already happened. It could be your parents
just need some education about the way scammers operate, especially if
the scam happened online. For example, were they told they won a contest?
Help them see the logic of not being able to win a contest they never
~ Review common indicators of possible scams. These include letters or
phone calls claiming the victim must "act now" to avoid some kind of
catastrophe, calls from people trying to help them with problems that
don't exist, or contacts from government agencies claiming to need
personal information for some reason.
~ The elderly may feel lonely, and are therefore more willing to trust
people who pay attention to them. Remind them that, even for adults, it's
not smart to talk to strangers.
~ Ask your parents if they would be open to granting you online access to
their financial accounts so you can help them monitor any shady activity.
Help them check their credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com.
~ Put your parents' contact information on opt-out lists with the Direct
~ Call or visit your parents regularly, let them know you're open to
listening to their challenges without judgment, and look for any signs
people are taking advantage of them.
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Molalla Communications Company
211 Robbins Street, Molalla, Oregon 97038