Grandparent Scams: How to Protect Seniors from Vacation Exploitation
The National Council on Aging recently reported that 92,731 seniors have been victims of fraud and scams in 2021, resulting in total losses of $1.7 billion. These scams can be particularly prevalent during the holidays, when people spend more time shopping onlineshare financial information with various websites and even rush to stores.
With less time to think about protecting their financial information — or wondering if a site is legit before making a purchase — the holiday season is becoming a risky time for online shoppers.
Fortunately, there are ways to take care of yourself or protect the seniors in your life from scams. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has also introduced a list of resources to help you.
Set up alerts to identify misuse of funds
The CFPB reports that the illegal or inappropriate use of money, property, or assets of older Americans is the most common form of elder abuse, affecting up to 17 percent of people age 65 and older. The best way to prevent fraud is to constantly monitor your accounts and set alerts for larger transactions.
Thieves often try to process a small transaction first. So you can help your grandparents or older loved one set up SMS notifications whenever a transaction involves one of their accounts. If anything looks suspicious, they should immediately call their bank or credit card company.
Work with your financial institution to identify suspicious activity
You can contact your bank or credit union to add one or more “trusted contacts” to your account. These people can’t access your money, but they could be a point of contact if you can’t be reached and the bank notices suspicious activity on your account.
You can add as many trusted contacts as you want and change them at any time, according to the CFPB. You may need to sign a printed document to authorize additions or changes. Ideally, your trusted contacts are not people who control your finances or stakes in your accounts. In other words, you should choose people who have no interest in spending your money.
Plan for reduced capacity and illness
You should also discuss the idea of a power of attorney if you or your loved one become unable to manage their money on your own. This should be someone you trust to manage your money and make financial decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
You should always maintain a few trusted contacts that are unrelated to the person you gave power of attorney over your accounts. In case of suspicious activity on your account, the financial institution will first contact your trusted contact.
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Monitoring accounts, with the help of a trusted friend or family member, can go a long way in saving your money and avoiding credit card fraud – and other types of financial abuse. – during the holiday season.
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