Tips to help senior citizens avoid financial scams

COLUMBUS, Ga — “On a weekly basis, I’m talking to senior citizens, who have been scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says Kelvin Collins, Interim President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of East Alabama and West Georgia.

Collins says shame often keeps the elderly silent about the extent to which they are targeted by scammers. But he points out it’s a not a senior citizen problem; it’s a criminal problem.

“Senior citizens, they were raised in a time where someone’s handshake meant something,” Collins says.

Unfortunately, times have changed, but Collins offers some tips for helping make sure the senior citizens you love don’t fall victim.

Collins says: “If they’re getting a lot of sweepstakes and lottery letters and things like that, then they’re on a list somehow. And they got on that list by sending in some money. Also, just kind of watch the people who are coming and going. We’ve seen several situations where a senior would have people stopping by, giving them a sob story, and they would end up giving them money.  Be involved in your parents’  or grandparents’ lives and know what’s going on.”

Greg asks: “Kelvin, what about families who have to hire a caretaker to take care of a loved one. How can they keep them in check?”

“Just because you’ve hired a caretaker, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to go and visit and see what’s going on.  Ask questions, and don’t go at the same time or week every day.”

Also, make sure you keep an eye on the bank statements, not surrender the finances to a caretaker. Perhaps most importantly, have a background check performed before the caretaker is hired.

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