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Warning Signs Your Parents Need Help With Finances

December 16, 2015

Christmas is the season of giving and many people feel generous and give to charitable organizations. Unfortunately, this time of year is when scammers target the elderly asking for money and special attention. The Federal Government posts warnings about this every year, but they may not always reach the ones they are intended to protect. That is why it is up to family and friends to watch out for the elderly in their lives. It is important to look for possible signs that your family member may be spending too much or susceptible to scams. Some of the things to look out for are listed below.


1. Evidence of unpaid bills.  Often loved ones gradually lose the capacity to pay bills or keep track of finances as they age. Sometimes this can be due to dementia or health reasons. If you notice bill collectors calling, notices posted on the door or utilities being cut-off, it is time to step-in and help.  You can help by offering to pay bills, setting-up online accounts or making automatic payments.


2.  Too much charitable giving to anyone who asks. Scammers are eager to call, visit or misrepresent themselves in order to get money. Many unsuspecting elders believe them and do not check what the organization is or who they represent. Remind your loved one to ask for a name, address and phone number to verify the organization. Also, be sure they are not writing duplicate checks to the same organization because they have forgotten a prior gift. Always discourage them from giving money over the phone with a credit card.


3. Evidence of a friend who seems overly involved in your loved one’s life. Many friends and neighbors are happy to help care for aging parents, however, many folks will develop friendships for the purpose of getting money and running. You should never give your social security number, credit cards or bank accounts to someone that isn’t looking out for your best interest. It is safest to only allow a trusted family member or financial professional to handle that information. This can be very difficult if you live faraway. Possibly persuade your loved one to allow you online access to their accounts especially if they have memory loss. Manipulation and theft are easy for a person waiting for an opportunity to steal.



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