Scammers and con artists often target older people. Elders may also be more likely to fall victim to fraud, either because they are unfamiliar with some common scams or because the effects of early Alzheimer’s or other dementia allow others to take advantage of them more easily.
Of course, when older loved ones are no longer able to make financial decisions for themselves, then a power of attorney is appropriate. But when elderly parents are living independently, but potentially at risk to financial predators, knowing how to protect them can be tricky.
When talking to one’s parents about the risk of fraud, it is important to avoid shaming or blaming them; they may become defensive and resist sharing information. The simplistic solution of “just hang up the phone” is not likely to be convincing, either. Instead, have a conversation about what kinds of calls, letters and emails have been received. Talk about the facts of common scams. Are they aware that government agencies will never make unsolicited calls and ask for personal information? Do they know that notices to pay a fee to collect contest winnings are fraudulent?
One can also appeal to a parent’s natural desire to protect others. Ask them whether they have seen certain warning signs: alertness can reinforce their own healthy skepticism.
Contact a White Plains estate planning lawyer to learn more.