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Checking in with the Older Adults in Your Life
Wednesday, December 23, 2015 6:40 AM

by Seena Gressin , Attorney, Bureau of Consumer Protection, FTC

A recent article on the Federal Trade Commission's website showcases the signs of scammers for those older people in your life. If you’re spending time with elderly friends or family members during the holidays, here are some things you can do to make sure that they are safe from a fraudster’s grasp.

Start a conversation about scams. “Are you getting those annoying IRS imposter calls, too?” “Boy, I’ve gotten a lot of charity requests this year. You, too?” For ideas on starting the conversation, try Pass It On, the FTC’s resource to help get older adults talking about scams. You might even watch a Pass It On video together.

Be alert for signs of a scammer:

  • Piles of mail offering “free” gifts, prizes, vacations, or “high-profit, no-risk” investments – or even the free (worthless) gifts themselves
  • Unusual purchases – maybe stacks of unread subscription magazines
  • Repeated telemarketing or robocalls. If someone is on the Do Not Call list, it’s a good bet that the calls are from scammers. (If someone is not on the list, this is a perfect time to offer to help them enroll!)

Watch for warning signs of financial trouble. If you spot, in plain view, things like unpaid bills or utility shutoff warning notices, those are signs of financial trouble. You might suggest that your loved one ask someone they trust to help review their financial statements and bills for unauthorized charges or other signs of fraud.

Report it. Let the person know he or she can help stop a fraudster in his tracks and protect others by reporting the fraud. Together, you can help make sure that the only thing a fraudster gets this holiday season is a lump of coal.