Helping your parents avoid financial scams

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2019 | Estate Planning |

As your parents age, you may find that you experience somewhat of a role reversal. While your parents raised you – making sure you were safe and out of harm’s way — now it’s your turn to do the same for them.

It is unfortunately highly common for scammers to target the elderly. Scammers know that older people are not as computer literate as younger generations, but many also know that those who are retired tend to have more free time on their hands. They won’t be as quick to click away or hang up the phone.

Education is key here. Have open and honest conversations with your aging parents. Tell them that there are people out there who just want to take advantage of them. Tell them to really watch out for the following types of known scams that target the elderly.

“Someone in trouble” scams

It goes like this: Your mom or dad will pick up the phone, or get an email, that says their grandchild is in serious trouble and needs money right away. In some cases, the person calling may even claim to be their grandchild – maybe playing on the idea of a bad connection or sound really far away.

Do not believe this. Ever. Do not send money — no wire transfers, gift cards or cash. Rather, hang up and call the grandchild back on their known number. Talk to them and confirm they are OK.

Social Security scams

Another common scam involves someone calling and claiming to be a representative of the U.S. Social Security Administration. This person may say you need to call a certain number and even make a request for personal information, such as a social security number. It can almost even seem legitimate, since some scammers will use an 800 number to make it seem real.

This is always a scam. The Social Security Administration is not going to contact anyone this way and would never call to threaten any type of legal action. That is not the way the administration handles business.

If your parent gets a call like this and is worried, tell them to hang up and then contact the Social Security Administration directly themselves, again, calling the administration’s known number listed on their website. This way, they know they are talking to a real agent.

If it sounds fishy, or way too urgent, it’s probably a scam

Scammers use urgency and fear to get information out of people. The best piece of advice for your parent is that if the call is making them nervous, someone is threatening them or asking for personal information, the best thing to do is just hang up or delete the email.

They can always follow up with you, a grandchild or the Social Security Administration directly. It is better to be safe than sorry.

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