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Helping older relatives avoid or deal with scams

Con artists and scammers are always seeking ways to bilk unsuspecting people of their money, and they use any tool they have at their disposal. Because scammers often prey on groups they feel will be vulnerable, older individuals are a common target. The elderly are hit with scams in person, on the phone and via the internet. If you are a caregiver for an older relative, then protecting them from scams is obviously important.

If you don't live with your relative, keep in touch with them regularly and talk about all types of things with them. Talk about finances, their home and their health, and listen for signs that they might be at risk of being taken advantage of. One scam artist stole thousands of dollars from elderly individuals in California and another state by promising to do work on homes and asking for partial payments in cash up front. He never did the work and disappeared with the homeowners money.

The National Center for Elder Abuse says that as much as $2.9 million is stolen from seniors every year. Often, the theft occurs online or via the phone and it is very difficult to find the person responsible. Many seniors never recover the money they lost.

While many people are still capable of handling their own finances as they age, some individuals might need or want additional help with decision-making and financial management. Working with an elder law attorney to set up power of attorney forms can help you assist your elderly relative while also keeping them from falling prey to such scams.

Source: Monterey County Weekly, "Many con artists target seniors: a look at the most common scams, and how to stop them," Sara Rubin, May 19, 2016

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