What to do if You Think a Loved One is Being Scammed

Every year, financial fraud scams are targeted at millions of elderly Americans. If you are a senior, your generation is often targeted in scams because you are likely to have a financial nest egg, you tend to be polite (even to strangers!) and you are likely to have good credit. Additionally, seniors are often reluctant to report being approached by a scammer because they are ashamed at not recognizing the situation right away. If an elderly person does report a scam, any memory impairment makes it difficult to recall details. For all these reasons, members of the baby boomers and the “greatest generation” are high on the list of targets for financial scams.

With American seniors losing more than $3 billion annually to financial fraud, it is important for seniors and their loved ones to understand the signs of a potential scam, what to do if you think a loved one is being scammed and how to report a crime against the elderly.

What are the Signs of Being Scammed?

While senior living communities, like Victory Hills Senior Living Community in Kansas City, Kan., provide seniors with social outlets and on-site resources to keep them safe, many seniors live alone. Isolation can make older adults especially vulnerable to scams. If you have an elderly loved one living alone, check in regularly and be aware of changes in personality or financial status. If you think a loved one is being scammed, here are a few other changes to watch for:

  • A sudden need of money or inability to pay bills
  • A change in attitude about sharing financial information
  • An increase in junk mail
  • An increase in the number of daily phone calls
  • Regular visits from strangers
  • Deliveries of items your loved one does not need
  • A change in social habits or a loss of interest in socializing

What to do if You Think a Loved One is Being Scammed

In the case of elder fraud, the earlier action is taken, the better. However, many people do not know what to do if you think a loved one is being scammed. One option is to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Another option is to contact your local FBI field office, either via phone or through an online tip.

If you have the need to report a potential scam, no matter the dollar amount, it helps to be able to provide some details.  Any way to give the authorities an insight into what has happened is positive. This includes information such as:

  • Dates of contact
  • Name(s) of the scammer or questionable company
  • Descriptions of interactions with the scammer
  • Methods of communication
  • Methods of payment
  • Where funds were sent, including information about financial institutions or wire transfers

Additionally, if you have documentation, such as faxes, emails or mailed documents, those can be helpful as well when you report a crime against the elderly.

Finding Safety and Security

According to FBI statistics, if your elderly loved one is in a secure environment with frequent contact with friends, neighbors and support services, like those available at Victory Hills, there is less risk of that elderly person becoming the victim of a scam. However, if you are worried or begin to see the signs of being scammed, there are also additional steps that can be taken in your loved one’s home to keep him or her safe. These include:

  • Checking your loved one’s credit reports and set up alerts to notify you of major changes.
  • Unlisting your loved one’s phone number; if your loved one still has a landline, consider replacing it with a cell phone.
  • Adding your loved one’s address to opt-out lists with the Direct Marketing Association to reduce junk mail and so that your loved one will understand what mail is expected to arrive and what is out of the ordinary.

At Victory Hills, adults age 55 and older enjoy an active, social lifestyle with amenities, support and resources. With affordable pricing and a variety of apartment choices, Victory Hills is an excellent choice for a happiness and security. Schedule a tour today or contact us at 913-299-1166 to learn more.