In the News

10 Essentials to Protect Your Loved One — and Yourself — From Fraud

Feb 4, 2022 AARP

Caregivers can play a key role in keeping criminals at bay

It’s a sad fact of life: Criminals target older Americans for fraud.

Many older folks have nest eggs. Cybersecurity is not their second language. They came of age during more trusting times. And they may be coping with isolation, diminished eyesight, hearing loss or other health issues.

Crooks exploit these vulnerabilities, but make no mistake: All of us — young and old — are susceptible to the bad actors who show up uninvited in calls, emails, mail, texts and tweets. Some are so bold as to knock on our front doors.

Fraud “is a crime that rips people’s souls apart,” says Anthony Pratkanis, an authority on the topic and professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California Santa Cruz. When it happens, financial loss is compounded by psychological hurt, feelings of vulnerability and even the death of one’s dreams, he says.

It’s role reversal when a younger person needs to counsel an elder, so you might want to frame these safeguards as steps that you, too, will take, Pratkanis says. As there are many techniques, consider tackling one a week.

Pratkanis and AARP’s Amy Nofziger took the lead in providing the anti-fraud measures below. Nofziger oversees the AARP Fraud Watch Network’s free helpline, 877-908-3360.

Nofziger suggests starting out with a nonconfrontational chat about a common scam and then role playing to game out how to deter it…