How to protect the elderly from scams and con artists

It’s a well-known fact that our elderly loved ones are part of a larger population that is often targeted by con artists. Protecting the elderly from scams is important, not just because it is the right thing to do or because it affects their ability to live a high quality life, but also because the resulting financial and emotional trauma can be devastating. Here are some tips from a leading elder law attorney in New Jersey on keeping the elderly safe from financial scams.

What makes the elderly targets for scams? 

According to the FBI, the elderly are particularly vulnerable to con artists and scams for several reasons. Not only were many of them brought up in a time when trusting a stranger was considered normal, they are also more likely to have good credit and sufficient income in the form of a retirement nest egg. They also often feel ashamed of having been conned out of money, and so are unlikely to tell anyone about what happened. In addition to that, many seniors do not know which authority to report a crime to and can be ineffective witnesses due to age-related memory loss and eyesight conditions.

What types of scams are seniors more vulnerable to? 

Knowing the types of scams that are most commonly targeted at the elderly can help create useful awareness for seniors and their families. Scams to watch out for include:

  • Bogus Medicare employees trying to get personal information or offering fake services.
  • Counterfeit and unsafe medications and supplements often claiming to boost memory retention, anti-aging or virility. These are often internet-based scams.
  • Con artists at funerals claiming the deceased had outstanding debts and trying to extort money from attendees.
  • Disreputable funeral homes adding unnecessary charges to funeral services.
  • Telemarketing scams involving depositing money into a particular bank account in order to access funds, claiming to be a loved one in trouble needing money quickly to pay for hospital or other fees, and fake charities soliciting money.
  • Email and phishing scams that ask for personal information in order to update or verify records. “Hackers get more sophisticated every day and so call social engineering tactics are particularly hard for the elderly to understand” notes NJ cyber expert John Lucich of the Network Security Group Inc. in Fairfield New Jersey, “You have to keep it simple for non-technical folks. The simple rule is just don’t open anything from an email you don’t recognize.”
  • Investment schemes like retirement planning schemes, pyramid schemes, Nigerian prince schemes and so forth that promise massive, unrealistic returns.

What can family members and loved ones do? 

Key to helping your senior loved one to avoid scams is communication. Talk to them about different scams and encourage them to call you if anything suspicious or confusing is happening in their lives, or if they are ever being asked for money, pressured to hire someone or give any personal information under any circumstances. If your loved one is struggling to manage their finances, you can step in and offer assistance and have an attorney draw up a Financial Power of Attorney to ensure that you can continue managing their finances as long as necessary. It is also a good idea to put their number on the National Do Not Call registry by phoning 1 (888) 382-1222 or visiting, as this will limit telemarketers.’

How can an elder law attorney assist you? 

An elder law attorney will be able to assist you and your loved one with the financial and legal planning that will maximize their protection. Frank R. Campisano has over 30 years of experience in New Jersey elder law.With his expertise and compassion, we can help your loved one grow older with dignity, in comfort and with proper peace of mind. For a free consultation, please contact us today.

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