One of the most heartbreaking things to learn about is the abuse of older Americans. When you first hear that this is an issue, it might not resonate with you. At the time, you may have older family members that are in good health and have adequate support to ensure their identity and finances are protected. Then one day, you come across a relative or friend who fell victim to a scam targeted towards the older generation and a few google searches later, you realize that this is a major issue. Then you start to think about your parents who may slowly start to lose some cognitive abilities, and you begin to worry. Protect Week is here to help shed light on abuse of older Americans and how you can protect those you love. If you want to help your parents defend themselves against abuse, here are three key actions to take today.
Talk to Them
The most important, and sometimes most difficult, thing to do is to have a conversation with your parents about the risks of abuse. This is a challenging talk to have because your parents may not want to believe they could ever fall prey to such scams and because it is hard for parents to take advice from their children. Don’t let these challenges stop you. Help your parents understand the types of scams that are out there and what tactics abusers might use to obtain their personal and financial information. Check out our blog on Abuse Strategies for things to consider discussing. Make sure that this is not a one-time dialogue. The more you talk to your parents about abuse, the greater the chances of them identifying it before they fall victim.
Teach Them Safe Use of Technology
While your parents may have Facebook accounts and use email, this is not a technology they grew up with and it’s constantly changing at a rapid pace. Spend some time ensuring your parents know how to safely use the internet, social media and email as those are avenues that many scammers will use to obtain personal information. When using the internet, ensure they know to be careful about entering social security numbers or financial account information on websites. On social media, they should only accept connection requests from people they know and on email, do not open mail from unknown senders.
Report Abuse if you Suspect It
Unfortunately, your parents may already be victims of abuse. If you suspect this is the case, you must do something about it immediately. Recently, the Justice Department announced the establishment of a National Elder Fraud Hotline. By calling the hotline, you can obtain support and resources to help your parents. The number is (833) 372-8311 (or 833-FRAUD11).
Take steps today to learn how to protect your parents from abuse. Learn as much as you can about the tactics scammers and warning signs that abuse is occurring. Spend time teaching them safe practices so that their identity and financial assets remain safe. For more resources, explore the rest of our Protect Week webpage and contact us with any questions.