Safeguarding Our Customers

Short Tutorial/FAQ – I'm Afraid My Elderly Parents Have Been The Victims Of Scammers. How Can I Help Prevent It From Happening Again?

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?

Download Graphics to View Answer: 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 entered.

  • 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 

  • Put your parents' contact information on opt-out lists with the Direct Marketing Association. 

  • 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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