How to Protect Your Elderly Parents From Being Scammed

It can be a challenge, but it’s wise to discuss with your parents their susceptibility to crime and ID theft.

It can be a challenge, but it’s wise to discuss with your parents their susceptibility to crime and ID theft
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If you're worried about the phone in particular, Hopker points out that at least so far, scammers tend to call homes with land lines. She thinks cell phones are more practical for the elderly.

But, of course, those other entry points can be dangerous, too. Depending on your comfort level and your parents' (or your own) finances, it might be time for a home security system, or to start monitoring your parents' mail for shady offers. Or it may be time to bring in a home caregiver who can be around and offer some guidance.

A safe may keep you safe. If you have a home caregiver watching over your mom or dad, however, you still have to be cautious. There are ample stories in the news of home care aids who have taken a senior citizen's credit card and gone on a shopping spree. Because of that, even Jeff Salter, the CEO of Caring Senior Service, advises that a senior citizen who will begin regularly having a service worker in the home buy a safe and lock up their valuables, like a driver's license and credit cards.

While home care aids go through stringent background checks, Salter concedes, "You never know when a good person has fallen on hard times, or where their son or daughter needs money, and suddenly they see that cash or ring on a table that would solve their problems."

Salter adds that a safe is a good idea no matter who is in the home, whether it's a plumber, electrician or someone to install a new doorknob, "especially if your parent is getting to the stage where they're not paying attention and letting their guard down."

[See 10 Warning Signs of Identity Theft]

When it comes down to it, even the occasional family member can be a threat to an elderly person's finances, which can make anyone paranoid thinking about all the ways their parents can get taken. But it's just a sad fact of life that the older you get, the more desirable you become to thieves.

"They go after them because they're the ones with the money," says Cassidy. "They have the pensions, the house, the Social Security checks, and they've had a lifetime to save money. Crooks look for targets with resources, and older people often have them."