You have probably heard about the uptick in financial schemes aimed at the aging. Scam artists send emails purportedly from a close relative, asking for money to help get out of a bad situation. Or perhaps there are telephone calls from a bill collector claiming payment is necessary for some unrecognized bill or else legal action will occur.
The largest target population for financial scams is the elderly. They make easy marks often because they can get easily confused and manipulated with stories of hardship. What can you do to ensure your aging parent is not a victim of a scheme?
Have open-ended conversations
The last thing you want to do is make your parents feel old or unable to care for themselves. Keep up on the latest scams and keep an open dialog with your parents. Make sure they understand that nobody in or around the family should call or email and ask for emergency funds. If the story sounds too convincing, tell them to consult with you or another trusted family member or even the police. Scammers rely on shame and embarrassment to keep their victims from coming forward or calling the authorities until it is too late.
Monitor financial activity
Depending on your parent's mental and physical health, you may already have access and authority over their money. If you do not have this yet, perhaps talk to an attorney about it at the next estate planning meeting. Having a durable power of attorney in Georgia may allow you to assume control over your parent's financial matters should they not have the capacity to make sound decisions.
If you find out your aging parent has fallen prey to a money scam, do not get angry or make him or her feel bad. The last thing you want to do is trigger an emotional or mental breakdown out of frustration. Get help quick by contacting the proper authorities to open an investigation. While you might not recover the money, it is a good chance to continue the open conversation about your parent's health and welfare going forward.