Avoiding Financial Scams in Assisted Living

When your aging parent moves to assisted living, you understandably may feel that your mother or father is safe and secure from many of the threats that lurk in the proverbial “real world.” While there is some truth to that assessment, you need to bear in mind that one of the goals of living in assisted living is for a resident to be able to maintain as much independence as possible. Your mother or father in assisted living is not being wrapped in a cocoon.

Your parent in assisted living maintains connections to the world outside the walls of an assisted living facility. Your parent has access to a phone. Your parent can receive visitors at an assisted living facility, including individuals that are said to be selling something or another.

The reality is that older people tend to be more vulnerable to scammers. Scamming the elderly has become big business for con artists and other criminals. And this includes senior adults that reside in all type of long-term care facilities, including assisted living communities. 

There are some tactics that you and your parent in assisted living can employ in order to minimize the risk of being scammed by an unscrupulous person:

  • Get information in writing
  • Be particularly wary of sales cold calls
  • Do not give out personal information
  • Be suspicious of sweepstakes
  • Do not assume people are who they say they are
  • Maintain close communication with parent in assisted living
  • Report anything suspicious to assisted living community administration
  • Contact law enforcement

Get Information in Writing

Have your parent make a voluntary agreement with you. Make an agreement that before your parent agrees to buy anything from a salesperson who contacts them, is contacted by someone that wants your parent to make a donation, is going to do anything that requires the spending of money beyond what is routine … make an agreement that your parent gets the proposal in writing. Moreover, make a voluntary agreement with your parent that he or she will provide that written information to you to review. 

Getting information in writing and sharing it in this manner serves three important purposes:

  • A scam artist is less likely to put information associated with a con in writing and may retreat
  • You and your parent have the chance to review the proposal being made to your mother or father
  • If the proposal proves to be legitimate, the parameters of what was discussed is memorialized for future purposes

Be Particularly Wary of Sales Cold Calls

Your parent should be encouraged to be particularly wary of sales cold calls. They can still come to your parent, even when he or she is living in an assisted living community. If your parent receives a sales cold call, the best course is to end the conversation promptly. 

If your parent thinks he or she might have some interest in what is being sold, your parent should ask the person to leave his or her name and phone number and your parent can get back to him or her. This gives your parent a chance to visit with you about the matter. Moreover, you can participate in the callback, if one does occur.

Do Not Give Out Personal Information

Emphasize that your parent should never give our personal information to an unknown party. This includes everything from a social security number to residential address to date of birth. 

Be Suspicious of Sweepstakes

On a related note, your parent needs to be suspicious of sweepstakes and offers of gifts presented to him or her. Simply put, if a request is made that your parent provide personal information upfront to participate in sweepstakes or to receive a gift – the situation at hand is a scam.

Do Not Assume People Are Who They Say They Are

Remind your parent that he or she should not assume that people who make contact them are actually who they are. For example, if your parent receives a call out of the blue from someone who says he or she is with the IRS, it is a scam. The IRS does not operate in this manner. 

Maintain Close Communication With Parent in Assisted Living

An important way in which you can assist your mother or father in assisted living to avoid financial scams is to maintain close contact and close communication with your parent. By maintaining regular, open, friendly communication with your mother or father, he or she will be far more likely to keep you abreast of what is going on in his or her life. This includes sharing information with you about financial issues and people who have reached out to your parent. Close contact and communication puts you in the position of being a truly important and trusted ally of your mother or father.

Report Anything Suspicious to Assisted Living Community Administration

If your parent appears to have been targeted by a scammer, report the matter to an assisted living community administration. The grim reality is that if you parent has been targeted, other residents in the community either are or will soon be put in the sights of a scam artist. By reporting an issue to administration, staff becomes better aware of a potential problem. Moreover, administration can appropriately advise community members to be aware of a particular con or scam.

Contact Law Enforcement

A person preying on vulnerable older individuals likely are committing a number of different crimes. In order to best protect your aging parent as well as other individuals in the Golden Years, make a police report regarding what your mother or father has experienced. 

Many local law enforcement agencies as well states’ attorneys general offices maintain hotlines for older people who fear they have been targeted by a scam artist. Take advantage of these hotlines when available. 

There are very real ways you can enhance your parent’s security against con artists and scam artists. By staying closely connected to your parent, you both are in the best position to protect your mother or father from those with an intent to do them harm.