By Jim Dueck

To help protect seniors from scammers, someone may need to have a discussion with the senior to monitor how a scammer has solicited them. Sometimes this means actually staying with them in their home for a weekend or a week.  Don’t assume that because a senior has not mentioned an involvement in a nebulous situation that it hasn’t happened. Often the seniors realize they have been scammed and they are too embarrassed to tell someone about it.

Individuals don’t have to have dementia to become a victim of scammers.  Many successful people become involved with scammers through emails, personal visits, phone calls or scam mail they receive. A response to the solicitation often results in the sale of personal information to other scammers who then intensify the scam.  

Some of the many scams include being told that a contest has been won and payment of a processing fee will release the winnings. Or that money is owed to the IRS and payment needs to be made immediately or you will be arrested. The IRS will not initiate a threatening conversation via the telephone and there are local offices where you can go to verify any notice you may receive. 

One of the most heartbreaking scams is through a telephone call relating that a grandchild is being held and payment must be made so the grandchild will not be held in jail. They even have someone speak to you posing as your crying grandchild.  Hang up and call your grandchild or their parents.

Some scammers will relate a story about how you will receive millions of dollars if they are helped move large sums of money from a foreign country and a dreadful situation. They ask that you send them your bank account number so they can share their wealth with you before leaving the country. Or a check is sent with the enticement to cash it in your personal account. It bounces but the money has already been sent from your personal account. 

This is a very short list of the many scams, but steps can be taken to avoid them. 

Set up alerts with the senior’s bank that sends an email or text when withdrawals or requests are made. Make sure the senior has a Power of Attorney in place. Make a request to the senior that another responsible party has signature authority on their bank accounts. 

If a situation has escalated to the point of the senior losing control of their funds, redirect the mail, change the phone number or disconnect it and have someone in the home 24 hours a day to intercept communications from scammers. Scammers may continue to contact a person through UPS and FedEx to bypass the postal service. 

Be involved with a senior family member and vigilant about the situations in their lives. It is a good way to help prevent scammers from stealing assets.