How to prevent senior financial fraudPublished 9:17am Friday, June 21, 2013
Protect your parent
The most effective way to help protect your mom is to alert her to the different kind of scams out there. The easiest way to do this is by visiting the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force website (stopfraud.gov – click on “Protect Yourself”), where you can get a rundown on the different types of scams making the rounds. The Better Business Bureau Scam Stopper site at bbb.org/scam-stopper is another good resource.
If your mom doesn’t have access to a computer, print out the materials yourself and use them to start a conversation.
It’s also a good idea to keep close tabs on your mom’s social circle. Has she acquired any questionable new friends lately or is she seeing anyone who’s giving her advice, financial or otherwise?
Some other tips to protect her include reminding her to never give out her Social Security number or financial information unless she initiated the contact and knows the institution.
Also, see if your mom would be willing to let you sort her mail before she opens it so you can weed out the junk. To reduce the junk mail and/or email she gets, use the Direct Marketing Association consumer opt-out service at dmachoice.org. And to stop credit card and insurance offers, use the Consumer Credit Reporting Industry opt-out service at optoutprescreen.com or call 888-567-8688 – they will ask for your mom’s Social Security number and date of birth.
Also, register your mom’s home and cell phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry (donotcall.gov, 888-382-1222) to reduce telemarketers. And help her get a free copy of her credit report at annualcreditreport.com to make sure she isn’t a victim of identity theft.
If you suspect your mom has gotten scammed, report it to your state securities regulator’s office (see nasaa.org for contact information), or your state’s Adult Protective Services agency (call 800-677-1116 for contact information) that investigates reports of elderly financial abuse.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.