Since 1997, presidents have designated November as National Family Caregivers Month to celebrate and honor the millions of Americans caring for those who need support and medical assistance.
In Missouri, 1 in 5 adults are caregivers to a friend or family member. Around 20% of Missouri caregivers currently provide care to someone with dementia.
In many cases, caregivers are not just supporting someone’s health or medical needs, but also their financial wellbeing. Older adults, especially those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, may need extra support to protect themselves from fraud.
Scam and fraud awareness is a complex mental task. It’s harder for those who have a condition that impacts memory, thinking and behavior. One of the best ways to prevent fraud is for caregivers to know the signs.
BBB recommends that older adults and their caregivers familiarize themselves with common scams targeting older adults and make a plan for what to do if they receive a strange call or message.
Tips for caregivers:
• Watch for warning signs. It may be time to talk with your loved one if they are receiving frequent junk or spam calls, making unfamiliar payments, acting secretive about phone calls or messages, or experiencing sudden financial trouble.
• Talk with your loved one. Help them be as prepared as possible – discuss what common scams look like and encourage them to ignore suspicious messages or phone calls. Make sure they know that you are there to help if something doesn’t seem right, and that they can tell you if they receive a strange call or message.
• Reduce solicitations. Register all unsolicited phone numbers on the “Do Not Call” registry and all unsolicited mail on the “Do Not Mail” registry. You can also reduce unwanted mail by registering with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Remove a person’s name from the credit bureau’s mailing list by calling the Consumer Credit and Reporting Industry at (1.888.567.8688).
• Screen calls. Make sure your loved one has a working caller ID and answering machine. Advise them not to answer the phone for people they don’t know. If someone is a frequent target for spam calls, you may need to help them change their phone number.
• Discuss financial security. In some cases, it may be helpful to have a calm discussion with your loved one about helping them secure their accounts and monitor their finances to prevent and identify scams.
BBB has more resources for older adults. If you think someone has been targeted by a scam, report it to BBB ScamTrackerSM.