You knew your parents to be intelligent and financially savvy all their lives. You went to them when you had a question about a home loan or another difficult monetary issue. As such, you felt confused and frightened when you found out they were recently taken advantage of by a telephone scammer – a common ruse that both of your parents should have been able to see through. This is unfortunately not an uncommon issue for many New York residents. Senior citizens are frequent targets of scammers and other dishonest people.

Why is this so, you may wonder? You would hope that financial scams against vulnerable senior citizens are few and far between, since someone would have to be particularly unscrupulous to steal from the elderly. However, the National Adult Protective Services Association reports that one out of 20 senior Americans is a financial abuse victim. Many thieves and scammers see them as easy targets because elderly people may be naïve to new and sophisticated con methods. They may also suffer from cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other age-related conditions.

The following common scams can give you an idea of the ones your parents may encounter:

    • Someone on the phone claiming to be a representative of the IRS or a utility company, saying they owe money and demanding immediate payment
  • False mailings claiming the recipients have won the lottery or a sweepstakes, but they must pay a “processing fee” to claim their winnings
  • A popup window saying a virus has infected their computer, promising to fix the problem for a fee, then damaging the computer beyond repair

Understandably, you may worry how to prevent scammers from cleaning out your parents’ bank account and assets. Before a cognitive condition becomes too severe, you may want to speak with them about granting power of attorney, so you can ensure their needs are taken care of and protect their assets when they are no longer able to make informed financial decisions.