During the holidays, you may have the opportunity to talk with aging parents about finances. Although talking about money can be uncomfortable for all parties, it’s important your parents understand they are entering a demographic the FBI says is heavily targeted by scam artists .
Why? Seniors often have money saved, own their homes, and have excellent credit. Added to that, they were born in a more trusting time, and tend to not ask too many questions. Seniors are also less likely to report scams, and if they do, they often can’t supply detailed information.
Scams that often target the elderly include:
- Mortgage products—Ask your parents not to respond to unsolicited advertisements. If they are interested in a mortgage product, like a reverse mortgage or refinance, they should contact their mortgage company or seek out a certified housing counselor using HUD’s website .
- Living trust, annuities or other investments—Review the paperwork to see if the investment makes sense and, if your parents are getting unwanted calls, they can register for the National Do Not Call Registry (888-382-1222).
- Health care or health insurance—Know your parents’ doctors and the health products they are purchasing and check invoices and statements for merchandise or services that were not ordered or needed.
- Telemarketing—Remind them that callers offering free vacations, low cost health products, and other too-good-to-be-true items, just may be—and to be skeptical of those who want immediate decisions before the offer expires or before they get off the phone. Have your parents write down contact information and offer details without committing or sending any money. Then check with a local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau , state attorney general, or other watchdog group.
For more information on telemarketing scams and how seniors can protect themselves, download the National Consumers League (NCL) They Can’t Hang Up  brochure (available in both English and Spanish).