Ways the older adult can act to avoid financial exploitation

Solutions that help the older adult avoid financial exploitation include:

  • Understanding common scams and tactics

  • Encouraging the older adult to be skeptical

Understanding common scams and tactics

Discuss common scams with the older adult, such as:

  • Asking for payment up front and then not going or not finishing the work

  • Claiming to be a relative who needs money to deal with an emergency

  • Demanding immediate payment of taxes or loans

  • Going door to door to offer home improvement services

  • Pressuring the older adult to make business investments

  • Promising "free" lunches or trips

  • Saying the older adult needs to pay to collect lottery or sweepstakes awards

  • Seeking donations for urgent disaster relief efforts

  • Sending emails or making phone calls that ask the older adult for account or any other sensitive information

  • "Spoofing" phone numbers, so the older adult's caller ID says the call is coming from a bank, company, government office or other legitimate-seeming source

Look up scam alerts on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission website at Consumer.FTC.Gov and sign up for their scam email alerts. Check to see if the consumer protection agency in the older adult's state sends warnings about current scams.

Some tactics are red flags for financial exploitation. Encourage the older adult to say no and end the conversation if salespeople, contractors, callers or even people they know say something like:

  • This is a limited offer, especially for you.

  • You must make a decision or send money right now.

  • We'll send more information after we receive your payment.

  • This low-risk investment will quickly pay off big.

  • We guarantee that you'll get this loan, credit card or prize.

  • You've won a major prize or big money.

  • So many others are taking advantage of this great offer.

  • You need to make a cash deposit.

  • This will keep your money safe from those bankers and lawyers.

  • You'll never have to worry about your finances again.

Encouraging the older adult to be skeptical

To resist scammers' high-pressure tactics and emotional manipulation, encourage the older adult to:

  • Ask for written information about donation appeals, investments or other special offers.

  • Check out companies with the Better Business Bureau.

  • Look up charities with the Better Business Bureau, Internal Revenue Service or watchdog groups like Consumer Reports.

  • Check credentials, licenses and references before hiring professionals, contractors or other paid help.

  • Get a detailed written estimate for any home improvement or professional work.

  • Compare work estimates, product quality and prices before making major purchases.

  • Pay for work, goods and services with checks or credit cards, not cash.

  • Take time to make financial decisions.

  • Check account and credit card statements for suspicious or unauthorized activity.

  • Refuse to share account, personal or other financial information, unless the older adult contacted and has checked out the business.

Offer to help the older adult investigate offers, products or professionals. Tell the older adult that any real deal won't disappear overnight.