Sons and Daughters of Elderly Parents, You Need to Help

Sons and Daughters of Elderly Parents, You Need to Help

Article by Brian McMahon

I am often asked by nonprofit organizations that serve the elderly population to give presentations to their clients about how they can avoid falling for a telephone or email scam.  However, because all the people in the audience are elderly, I am not too sure I am making a real difference.  My sense is that as soon as they leave my presentation and find themselves in the “heat of the moment” on a call with a scammer, they are going to mistakenly trust the person on the other end of the line talking to them and completely “space” when it comes to remembering what I told them during the presentation. 

That is the reason I’m posting this blog on LinkedIn.  I am hoping to get my message to the audience that can do the most good – i.e. the sons and daughters of elderly parents.  There are three simple things you can do: 

  1. Give your elderly parent an easy way out of a call from a scammer.  Tell your elderly parent that if they ever get a call from someone asking for money, or they get that “feeling in their gut,” to not think twice and give the person (read: scammer) your contact information and tell the person calling, to call you.  My guess is you will never get a call; or if you do and it is legitimate, the person will not mind the inconvenience.  You also need to convince your elderly parent to simply hang-up on the caller, even if mid-sentence.  This is really hard for them to do because, arguably, they grew up in a more “polite” generation – which is exactly what the scammer is counting on.
  2. Encourage your elderly parent to talk to you if they ever fall for a scam.  To do this you need to convince them, by being sincere, that you will not think they are not capable of taking care of themselves just because they fall for a scam.  Explain to them that these scammers are way, way talented and that even people that are not “old” fall for the these tricks too.  I am blown away by the fact that every time an elderly person shares with me that they have been scammed, that I am the only person they have ever told and that the reason they have not shared this fact with their family is because of the concern I mention above.
  3. Freeze your elderly parent’s credit report.  Go online to each of the three major credit reporting agencies (i.e. Experian, Transunion and Equifax), with your elderly parent, and put a “freeze” on the release of their credit report.  Although this won’t prevent a scammer from getting money if your elderly parent gives them their credit card number or bank account number, it will prevent the scammer from being able to open a new credit account using any personal information the scammer manages to get from your elderly parent.  If a lender can’t pull a credit report, the lender won’t open a new account.  All three credit reporting agencies offer this service for free.  However, there is a charge, typically around $20.00, to have the freeze removed.  Not only is this a small price to pay for this level of financial security, the chances of your elderly parent needing to “unfreeze” their credit report is likely pretty slim.  In fact, I recommend every reader of this blog “freeze” their credit report.  I have my credit report “frozen.”  When I apply for credit, I ask the credit union/bank/credit card company what credit reporting agency they intend to use, and then I go on my smartphone and take the freeze off that credit reporting agency long enough to allow the lender to pull a credit report.  Then I put the “freeze” right back on – usually while I’m sitting there waiting for the lender to decide whether to approve the extension of credit.


Contact Brian McMahon

Posted on May 16, 2017
Tagged as Elder Law, Family Law