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Here’s a disturbing statistic: One out of every five Americans over the age of 65 has been victimized by a financial scheme, according to the Investor Protection Trust, a nonprofit organization devoted to investor education.
If your parents are in this age group, should you be concerned? And can you help them avoid being “scammed” so that they maintain control over their finances?
The answer to the first question is “yes” – you should be concerned. As much as you’d like to think otherwise, your parents could be susceptible to rip-off artists.
Observe their behavior. Listen closely to any new friends, investment deals or sweepstakes they mention during your normal interactions.
Urge them to watch out for suspicious emails. You’ve probably seen them — the emails offering to “reward” you with huge amounts of money if you will only contact such-and-such from a distant country and then put up a “small” sum to initiate some ill-defined transaction. Encourage them to further their financial education. Law enforcement agencies, health care professionals and financial services providers all offer personal financial management programs designed for seniors. Become familiar with their financial situation. Have a serious discussion with your parents about their finances. The more you know about their investments, retirement accounts and estate plans, the better prepared you’ll be to respond if they mention an action they’re considering that just doesn’t sound appropriate.