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How to protect elderly from scams? Strategies for communication and prevention

As phone scams targeting the elderly continue to rise, it’s increasingly important for families to discuss and educate their older members about these deceptive practices.

The urgency of this issue is underscored by a recent case involving Daniel Goldstein’s 86-year-old mother, who fell victim to a scam that cost her $600.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that older adults are particularly vulnerable, with consumers of all ages losing a total of $8.8 billion last year.

Experts from organizations like the National Council on Aging and AARP emphasize the need for awareness, especially regarding common scams targeting the elderly, such as the “grandparent” scam and romance scams.

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The grandparent scam involves impersonators posing as grandchildren in distress, while romance scams often begin on social media and escalate to requests for money under false pretenses.

To combat these scams, continuous and open conversations about them within families are crucial. Genevieve Waterman from the National Council on Aging suggests making discussions about scams a regular part of family conversations, while Kathy Stokes from AARP recommends an informative rather than authoritative approach when talking about scams with older family members.

In cases where a family member has already been scammed, it’s essential to approach the situation with empathy, understanding that scam victims have been subjected to sophisticated and organized crime tactics.

Developing a plan for older adults to consult with family members when they encounter potential scams can also be effective, as illustrated by Goldstein’s arrangement with his mother. Additionally, educating family members on how to report scams, such as through the FTC’s website, is a key step in fighting back against these fraudulent activities.



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