Central Coast

Dear Jon: Elder Fraud Cases Becoming More Insidious

Dear Jon - Elder fraud has become such a problem that the U-S Postal Inspection Service is working hard on cracking down on the crooks both foreign and domestic. This is time of year especially when many are in a giving spirit. If your parent has been living in the same home for years and they're widowed, they are a prime target. Donna wrote to me and asks, "Dear Jon, what can I do about my mother getting flooded with scam mail and phone calls?"

Any of us with aged parents can sympathize with this issue; our seniors are getting victimized by these relentless scammers. Know this, criminals are preying on the trusting nature of our senior citizens through the mail and over the phone and the more our seniors crave attention, scammers get a foot in the door! By mailing just one small check, they've hooked the senior and put them on a list and then its call after call after call.

These scams can come in many forms in the mail from soliciting the senior through their curiosity for astrology and it's various offers of 'readings' or 'magical' trinkets that have some 'mystical power' to provide wealth. It could be the solicitation will promise a larger payoff through some foreign lottery, if you 'just send us the cost of postage of 39.95'! Some even ask for seniors to send them a copy of their ‘will.' Some have resorted to using Google maps to see the victim's home for their insidious plots to scam the senior, even apply pressure on them to send money they many not even have! The list goes on and on and let me just say that lotteries don't work that way...you never have to pay to get your money.

So what can you do? The U-S Postal Inspection Service or USPIS tells me that number one; don't be trusting of these solicitations and do the research about the mailing. It's very hard to stop these mailings or phone calls short of changing a phone number or having a gate keeper that screens mail before the senior receives it. Remind seniors if the offer seems too good to be true, then it usually is not true! Go online for your aged parent and find out what others have been dealing with and read the fine print on the mailings. Many times you can search a mailing through the name of the company or the name of the sender. Remind your parent or senior that they should speak up about these offers that they are getting and don't hide it. Embarrassment is normal if they feel they've been scammed so be patient and allow them to have their dignity in the matter. These discussions are so important to have if you have concerns.

Beyond this, report any suspicions of fraud to the USPIS and local law enforcement. Here's the toll free phone number for the USPIS...1-877-876-2455. You may want to jot that down.

I can't stress enough how much of a problem this is. Don't let this happen to you or your aged parent, you can take action to save them from these criminals who prey on the most vulnerable among us.

If you have a question for me, log on to our website and click the Dear Jon tab on our home page. And feel free to message me on Facebook: @Jon K Brent KIONKCOY and Twitter: @DearJonKBrent.

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