Today I'm welcoming Art Maines, the author of Scammed, to Melissa's Midnight Musings as part of the Premier Virtual Authors Book Tour. He's going to explain the steps that will need to be taken if a loved one or anyone you know are ever scammed:. Here's what Art has to say about this serious topic:
3 Steps to Take Immediately if Your Elderly Loved One Has Been Scammed
In today’s uncertain global economy, an increasing number of individual criminals and organizations target senior citizens as potential victims for a wide variety of rip offs, cons and scams. Identity theft, phony sweepstakes, phishing emails, and door-to-door home repair offers abound.
Senior citizens are targeted by these criminals because they often have savings, may not hear well on the phone, or may be easily enticed by the lure of easy money or the ability to rescue someone in distress. Scammers assume that elders are not computer savvy or rarely check their account statements. They are extremely skilled at psychological techniques designed to gain trust. Most scam victims are astounded that such a ‘nice’ person could ever be a criminal.
So, if you or one of your loved ones has been a victim of a scam, take these steps immediately to stop the crime and begin the recovery process:
Step 1—Discovery: Gather the Vital Information Quickly
In this step, gather all the details including the how the scam happened, how much money was turned over to the scammers, if there have been any threats of harm to the senior or other family members, and any other important details. Contact your local police department immediately and report the crime. Inform other family members as needed and come together as a support team.
Get notebook or file so that you can document all the information and keep in handy. You will be processing a large amount of paperwork so getting organized from the start will save you much time and frustration later.
Step 2—Protect Your Parent: Stop the Bleeding and Lock Down Their Assets
Contact each one of the credit card companies, banks, and brokerage companies you or your loved one deals with. Explain what happened and ask for a fraud alert to be placed on the account. You may also wish to freeze some or all of the accounts. Contact all the major credit reporting agencies and your attorney. Get all the professional help you can to ensure no more funds are lost and criminals have no further access. You may need to get a power of attorney to allow you to communicate on your senior’s behalf.
If the scams occurred over the telephone, request a new phone number. Close email accounts and open new ones as needed. Do your best to make it difficult for scammers to contact your parent or loved one.
Also involve your loved one’s physician. Scams are extremely stressful so it is important that the treating physician be aware of this situation so any health conditions can be closely monitored.
Step 3—Recovery: Plan Your Parent’s Financial and Emotional Recovery
Unfortunately, this step will take some time. It can take several years to fully recover from a scam. Consult with your senior’s financial planner to determine the best way to mitigate the financial losses if possible or find other ways to ensure your senior has the funds required for daily needs. Continue to monitor all credit card and bank accounts for further identity theft or scam activity. Some scammers sell information such as social security numbers so you may find your loved one targeted by other scams.
Encourage your elder not to blame themselves. Remind Mom or Dad that scammers are criminals who use sophisticated techniques. Try to help your senior move past guilt by putting the blame on the criminals. Focus on the good things in life and stress the way you are all working together to solve this issue.
While scams are stressful, frustrating, and can be financially devastating, they can be overcome with time, support, and teamwork.
Art Maines, LCSW, is a therapist in private practice and an expert in Elderly Fraud Recovery and Prevention. His new book Scammed: 3 Steps to Protect Your Elder Parents and Yourself, gives in-depth information on scam prevention and recovery.
About the Book:
Publisher: Love Your Life Publishing
Published: October 12, 2012
Buy the Book: Amazon
This is an important tool for anyone, so that they can be prepared. I want to say a big thank you to Art Maines for sharing his thoughts.