Dear Mary,

I recently discovered that my parents have been victims of scam artists. I still haven’t figured out just how much money they have lost, but I do see that they have fallen victim to the call saying they owe the IRS money and they responded by purchasing prepaid cards to pay off the so-called bill. I’m concerned they may have also given out their credit card number because when I looked at their latest statement, there are a lot of charges they can’t (or don’t want to) explain. How can I protect them from losing the small nest egg they have?

Dear Reader,

Unfortunately, exploitation of our older adults has become more common than we like to think. Because they often have more assets, seniors are targeted more than other age groups; their generational tendency to be trusting and polite puts them in a situation where they won’t hang up on a caller or ask them to leave if they show up at the front door. Scam artists can be quite good at bullying, coercing, or tricking an older person into paying substantial sums of money and yet very few people will report the act, often out of embarrassment. AARP reports that the average loss by a victim of financial exploitation is a whopping $120,000!

Not surprisingly, the pandemic seems to have made the situation even worse with older Americans losing more to scams than any other age group. Consumer Advocate Danielle Murphy explains: “We have all been isolated and lonely, and a senior is very vulnerable when the phone…

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