You see it all too often.... reversal of roles where the adult child is taking care of the parent. There are a lot of responsibilities and blessings that come along with that scenario. Unfortunately, making sure that they are financially safe from predators is one of them. Thankfully, there are actions the adult child can take to reduce the probabilities of financial fraud from occurring. Consider these steps:
(1) Computer/Online Fraud
According to a report (LINK) from the Federal Trade Commission, in 2018, seniors were scammed the most by tech support scams. Online fraud came in second. The aggregate amount of older consumers reported losing on tech support scams in 2018 was nearly $21 million.
Reinforce the following with your mom or dad. Never click-through links that you are unsure and most importantly, if there is a problem with your computer, let you know immediately! The same applies to text messages.
(2) Wire Transfers and Banking
Older adults reported sending more money to fraudsters by wire transfer than by any other method.
The first step is to add yourself as a joint owner of the bank account. This way you have full control and online access of the account for monitoring purposes. Second, talk to the bank about minimizing the ability to wire money. Some banks will turn that feature off. Some will allow you to require two signatures to wire money. Some banks have no provisions.
Phone scams are increasing. They prey on their victims by the use of fear. “This high rate of phone fraud reporting was driven largely by reported calls from government impostors, particularly Social Security Administration impostors,” the FTC report said. “In numerous instances, the scammers contacted the consumers daily, building relationships and creating trust. Frequently, large money losses occurred through multiple contacts over the course of weeks or months.”
3 Safe Guards of the Cell Phone
Don't answer calls from an unknown number
Only answer calls from a familiar name
Voice mails - If someone leaves a message saying that the parent owes money, instruct them to call you. (same goes with texts)
(4) Freeze Credit Reports
This is a "no brainer." First, check the 3 credit reports and make sure everything looks correct. Then put those credit reports under lock and key so that no one can access credit. Go to this link for complete instructions.
(5) Use a Credit Card Versus a Debit Card
You have maximum safety against unauthorized fraudulent charges with a credit card. A debit card gives a thief instant access to the bank account.
(6) Weekly Audit of Credit Cards, Bank Accounts, Credit Reports
Take the time each week to go online and review everything. Being proactive will help prevent the escalation of an identity theft problem.
There are more files compromised in the last few years than people in the US. It is important for all of us to be proactive. The probabilities are high that you or someone you love will be a statistic.