It's an unfortunate fact of life, but seniors are often the most targeted group of people when it comes to scams and fraud. A recent study by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) found that this happens because seniors are quicker to believe promises and slower to follow up on legal rights. That's probably because they grew up in a time when business deals were cemented with a handshake, not legal documents. That, in combination with the fact that seniors own more than half of U.S. financial assets, makes for a pretty scary situation. Here are six ways you can help your loved one avoid frauds and scams.
1. Be wary of mail or phone calls that inform your loved ones that they've won a prize. If these companies ask for some form of payment in order to collect the winnings, they're not legitimate. If your loved ones didn't enter a contest, it's pretty much guaranteed that they didn't win one.
2. Ensure that your loved one never sends money or gives out personal information, such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers or birth dates to unknown companies or individuals.
3. If you're looking for a medical alert system for your relatives, be sure to research medical alarm reviews first to weed out untrustworthy companies that might be looking to collect money, not protect your family members.
4. If your loved one is a widowed female, make sure that she never tells anyone who knocks on the door that there is no "man of the house" to speak with. She should never indicate that she lives alone, and it might even be a good idea to install a chain lock on her door, just in case.
5. Be sure to review your loved one's financial records to look for any suspicious activity. This may clue you in to the fact that someone is using your relative's identity for their own fraudulent purposes, or let you know that someone has been taking advantage of your loved one.
6. Talk to your relative about the importance of not buying on impulse. No matter how great a product or service sounds, it may not be the best choice – especially if the salesman is being very pushy. Tell your loved ones to review the materials they were given first, or give you a call if they need advice.