How to Talk with your Loved Ones after They’ve Been Scammed
Being the victim of a scam can leave a person with a variety of different feelings and emotions. As we’ve seen, financial scams are some of the most prevalent among the senior population, and years ago, scammers would overwhelmingly target people through telemarketing. However, with the rise of the internet, online scams, like prescription drug and anti-aging product scams have increased. Knowing that our loved ones have been victimized in this way can also leave us reeling as well, so what can we do to help them?
Talking to those we love about these issues is extremely important, and here are a couple of ways that you can use to help get the conversation started:
- Explain why. When you begin talking to your loved one about the issue, it’s important you also mention why they should ignore those kinds of phone calls or letters. If they get a scam in the mail or online, look at it with them and show them the warning signs that point to it being a scam. You could simply remind them they need to enter a contest to win one, or that they should never have to pay to collect any prizes.
- Don’t shame them. Victims of scams are usually very embarrassed, however it’s nothing to be ashamed about. Con artists and scammers are really smart, and a lot of people are victimized every year. All you need to do is remind them not to trust strangers—something we often forget that as we age. Emphasize the fact that if it seems too good to be true, they’re likely better off avoiding it altogether.
If your parent or loved one is the victim of a scam, you should report it immediately to local law enforcement offices and to federal agencies through STOPFRAUD.GOV (www.stopfraud.gov/report.html. Also, remind your loved one that their story may help to protect others, and that authorities are always on the lookout for scammers; any details they can share can help authrities find and stop fraud.
Once you’ve had that talk with your loved one, you may also wish to take the following steps in the interest of precaution:
- Set up online access to your loved one’s credit card and bank accounts to track their finances, and use www.annualcreditreport.com to ensure a fake account hasn’t been made in his or her name.
- Put your loved one’s number on the National Do Not Call Registry.
- Put your loved one’s address on the Direct Marketing Association’s opt-out lists, and report any mailed scams to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
- Get the help of trusted neighbors or friends to keep an eye out for your loved one, especially if you live far away.
If your loved one should try to be scammed online or over the phone, it’s important to make sure that he or she knows how to keep themselves protected from such scams.