Kyle’s 84-year-old father called with good news: He had won a sweepstakes! He just needed to pay a fee to collect a very large cash prize. Kyle was instantly suspicious. “Dad, this sounds like a scam. Did you even enter a sweepstakes?”
“I must have, or I couldn’t have won.”
“Real contests don’t ask winners to pay fees. Don’t give them any money.”
Unfortunately, Kyle’s dad had already paid. He called back a few days later.
“You were right. It was a scam. The FBI called to ask me to help them catch these guys.”
“Yes, I just have to withdraw more money and put it in another account so they can track the scammers. After they’re caught, I’ll get all my money back.”
Elderly people, like Kyle’s father, lose billions of dollars to scammers every year. Their trusting nature and often diminished judgement can make them easy targets. And if they fall for one scam, they will probably be hit up again.
Here’s how to help protect your elderly parents from becoming victims:
Know the possible scams:
- Phony contests.
- Fake Social Security or Medicare reps asking for personal information – either in person or on the phone.
- Offers for free or discount medications.
- Door-to-door salespeople who say something is wrong with their house (the ducts, the gutters, etc.) and needs to be fixed immediately.
Ways to prevent elderly people from falling victim to a scam:
- Explain it to them. Remind them not to trust strangers and to call you before they pay a lot of money for something.
- Have their phone number unlisted or disconnect their landline.
- Check credit card bills for unusual charges and monitor credit reports.
Kyle’s dad lost almost $2,500. But it could have been worse. In an upcoming post, find out the other problems Kyle discovered with his dad’s finances and what he is doing about them.