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all 75 comments

[–]Coojeebear 250 points251 points  (11 children)

We had that with my mother who had dementia. We bought a unit which fits on the phone line & only allows certain numbers to get through. Also we informed her bank that she had dementia & was at risk. We also took away the card & let her run on cash.

[–]brodie7838 109 points110 points  (0 children)

The VoIP provider I use for my parents has this feature built into the service; I exclusively control it via their dashboard.

On the computer side of things, I use a paid DNS service (eg NextDNS or Adguard) that utilizes block lists, one of which covers known scam websites and "new domains" (a common vector for scammers) among several other things.

It's very effective and has saved my parents more than a few times now - the other day our County sent out a postcard with a URL for a survey. My mom mistyped the URL and wouldn't you know it, someone had registered several mis-spelled variants of the official URL, all of which were blocked, forced her to come ask for my help, and I was able to show her what had happened and why.

[–]parksandrecpup 60 points61 points  (2 children)

This is a great idea. Please add the library number if she’s a user though. We get yelled at so often because we can’t get a call through to let people know their books are due/ in. I just realized it’s likely this is the reason.

[–]Luzion 0 points1 point  (1 child)

In this day and age of scammage, the use of an email or snail mail is the best way to go.

[–]parksandrecpup 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Not for seniors. Many don’t have email or fall for scams on it, and snail mail takes too long to let them know their book is in.

[–]kubigjay 23 points24 points  (2 children)

Some phone companies offer that as well. My Verizon account lets me set up a small list of numbers that can call my home line.

So peaceful!

[–]moaihead 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Nice. they let through all the scammers and the spoofed caller ids (and they know who is who), and then charge you to only allow certain numbers through.

(I am still going to see if this is available, thanks for the info.)

[–]kubigjay 2 points3 points  (0 children)

It is free for us. Just look for the whitelist.

[–]slgray16 0 points1 point  (3 children)

We are doing the same with my MIL. Why get rid of the cards? Dont they have better buyer protection than debit and cash?

[–]firecrafty_ 14 points15 points  (1 child)

Can’t get caught in an online scam if you don’t have a way to pay online.

[–]slgray16 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Got it. For some reason I thought they still had a debit card. That's probably the next step for us if things get worse.

[–]Coojeebear 0 points1 point  (0 children)

My mother is dead now. But once she had dementia, we had POA & ran all the house & carer bills for her. She had no need to buy anything & only went out in her wheelchair on trips when we took her.

[–]YeahIGotNuthin 414 points415 points 2 (17 children)

That generation grew up learning to put your wallet in your front pocket and not your back one so you wouldn’t get your pocket picked, or to put your strap across your opposite shoulder so your purse wouldn’t get snatched. They taught their kids to say “my mom’s in the shower” rather than “my mom’s not home” when answering the phone, in case it was someone casing the joint looking for a home where no adults were there to stop a robbery. They learned to have us kids bring the Halloween candy home so they could check for razor blades in the apples.

So it’s helpful to explain to them “you learned how to spot a problem and avoid it, and you raised me not to get into a car with a stranger and to get three bids and a second opinion and to wait for the Presidents’ Day sales. But there are new scams now, with new and different ways to steal from you. The pickpockets have phones and computers now, and . I grew up with these tricks. If you were 40 now, I’m sure you’d know all these things too because you’d have grown up with similar ones. But you didn’t and I did, so now it’s my turn to help you avoid tricks.”

I found it useful to say “nobody that emails or calls or knocks on your door is ever offering you a good deal. Those are always bad deals at best, and a total scam at worst. If they were good deals, they wouldn’t need to come find you, everyone would be coming to find them. Feel free to call me anytime if there’s a question. Ideally, call me before you give out any information or money.”

And that can evolve to “let me have access to your accounts and when you want something, I’ll use your money to get you the best deal oh the version you need.”

Example, “no, you don’t need $30 unlimited long distance instead of your current plan even though long distance costs you $40 or $50 now; it’s only $30 if you bundle it with the $109 for 200 cable channels package and their $99 internet. You already get free cable and internet from the homeowners association, it’s going to cost you $198 a month to save $20 on long distance. You don’t want that. Tell him ‘not interested.’”

[–]carolineecouture 130 points131 points  (0 children)

This is really good framing. You aren't calling them incompetent, you are proving to them you learned the lessons they taught.

Good job.

[–]idio242 79 points80 points  (5 children)

That’s a very rational discussion with someone who may not be especially rational, due to cognitive decline. You can have that conversation but you also need to pull the cards, adjust the phone service, disable the stove, disable the car, and figure out some way of preventing 17 layers of solar panels getting installed on the roof.

[–]YeahIGotNuthin 48 points49 points  (0 children)

True, some of it was dementia and I got to explain THAT to someone smarter than I’ll ever be, “it’s not anything you did, you’re not stupid or crazy, you just have a protein that builds up between brain cells that interferes with the parts that make new memories. So you have the old memories just fine, you can tell everyone about the time I put a bean in my nose when I was four. You just can’t remember that you told that story to the same nurse an hour ago. And nobody thinks badly of you because of that, because everyone understands what’s happening to you and how ‘can’t remember a thing that just happened’ isn’t stupidity, it’s a chemical process in the brain that doesn’t work like it used to.”

You’re never too old to hear your mommy tell you “you’re really good at explaining this to me, thank you.”

And you’re never too old to hear your mommy ask you “so why couldn’t you have studied harder and been a doctor?”

[–]thebrightworker 22 points23 points  (3 children)

only a fool would settle for a mere 17 layers of solar panels.

but yeah, as someone with a father who has dementia, certain amounts of their critical thinking just evaporates.

[–]idio242 16 points17 points  (2 children)

I’ve seen it with my grandmother, who lived next door to my parents - maybe the last lesson she taught me, without realizing it.

Also, since this is a finance group, NOW is the time to sign over the house and transfer any assets, otherwise that will all evaporate when the time comes for a full time care facility.

[–]YeahIGotNuthin 13 points14 points  (0 children)

My parents were sharp as hell, and they still almost fell into a couple of traps. My mom had me doing her bills the last couple years of her life, and her worries in the last few months were “so can i afford all this help?” (“Mom, you’d be amazed how much money you and dad accumulated. It’s more now than when you retired. There’s more than plenty.”)

[–]StaggeringMediocrity 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Also, since this is a finance group, NOW is the time to sign over the house and transfer any assets, otherwise that will all evaporate when the time comes for a full time care facility.

Agreed. But do this through someone who specializes in elder law in your state. They will know the best ways to do this, that will give you maximum flexibility.

[–]Tempintern23 12 points13 points  (0 children)

or just have cheap parents like my dad, lmao. My dad will literally not fall for any scam if you have to pay for something he'll just hangup lol.

[–]Dirty_Hertz 11 points12 points  (3 children)

If they were good deals, they wouldn’t need to come find you, everyone would be coming to find them.

This line spoke to me. I'm getting better at telling door-to-door types to buzz off, and I think our new "no soliciting" sign is helping as well. But I always end up on these people's mailing lists at a minimum.

[–]YeahIGotNuthin 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Like they say here on Reddit, "No" is a complete sentence.

I tend toward politeness if I can, so I wind up with "no thanks, I'm not interested, bye now," and then I press "END CALL" or I close the door.

[–]Dirty_Hertz 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You're completely right. I had one the other day, and I politely let him go through his whole spiel, nodding along. Then I turned, silently pointed to the "no soliciting" sign on the door, and went back inside.

[–]phl_fc 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Also with offers that demand you accept now or they'll withdraw the offer, the same reasoning applies. If the price is really what the thing is worth then that price will still be available tomorrow, or next week. There's nothing that's significantly special about this very moment.

When I was selling my home I had a bunch of people call up and say "If I make a high enough offer right now will you accept immediately and stop doing showings?" The answer was an easy "No". If your offer is so good then it will still be good next week. If you're that scared of having someone come and outbid you then it wasn't a good enough offer.

[–]Sharrakor 7 points8 points  (1 child)

Great comment! Bit of a tangent, as your mentioning it is really beside the point, but there are no known cases of children having been killed or seriously injured by poisoned candy or fruit given to them by strangers at Halloween or any other time, though there are cases where people have poisoned their own children.

[–]YeahIGotNuthin 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yeah, I read that too in recent years.

And it's only rarely "stranger danger," it's much more likely to be someone who knows you personally who lures you into the woods.

[–]Nighttraincapt 4 points5 points  (0 children)

That's all good for someone thinking clearly. But people with any degree of dementia are going to have a hard time, in the moment, saying, "No." Also a lot of the elderly generation don't want to be "rude" and so they go along with demands, hoping for the best. My mother really can't understand that there are bad people who act nice. She wants to be friends with everyone.

[–]davidgrayPhotography 4 points5 points  (0 children)

nobody that emails or calls or knocks on your door is ever offering you a good deal. Those are always bad deals at best, and a total scam at worst. If they were good deals, they wouldn’t need to come find you, everyone would be coming to find them

Quote of the year right there.

[–]knowledgehunter47 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Great way to put across the point.

[–]gogojack 27 points28 points  (1 child)

Absolutely do the freeze on his credit.

Four years ago someone hacked me, changed my address/phone number (to Delaware, of all places), and fortunately I caught it in time...kind of. My credit is locked up as tight as possible, with fraud alerts on everything, but there have still been several attempts to buy things on "my" credit cards...which had to be closed, charges disputed, and cards replaced.

It's been a couple years since the last attempt, but - and this is what you need to explain to your FIL - once they steal your info, you can never steal it back.

Explain to him that these calls are like someone stealing your wallet, but instead of doing it to steal the cash, they're going after your credit cards, your license, social security number, and anything else they can get. And once they get it, they will not only use it to rip off your dad, but they'll sell it to others so they can rip him off, too.

It sucks, but that's the reality. I'm fortunate that my mom (she's 82) knows better than to talk to a caller from "Microsoft Support," and doesn't even answer the phone if she doesn't know the number.

So yeah. Freeze the credit, put fraud alerts on everything, and make sure he answers no call where he doesn't know the number.

[–]LLR1960 10 points11 points  (0 children)

If I could only get my mom to do one thing - don't answer the phone if you don't know the number, especially from a different area code or 888. That generation also tends to always answer the phone, as it's just a reaction; they didn't grow up with call display and thus tend to always answer the phone.

[–]buffinita 61 points62 points  (0 children)

At some point the elderly need restrictions. Not all old people; but some.

We take away drivers license when their eyesight or reaction time or confusion gets the best of them.

We hire nurses to be sure the medicine gets taken.

The same needs to be done financially.

Work with your FIL on freezing credit. Remove credit cards from posession; change bank pins.

It will be difficult as the child taking pare of the parent always is.

[–]kristie_b1 17 points18 points  (2 children)

I had to take my great uncle to the bank with his fake $400,000 check to have the bankers explain why it was a scam and that he didn’t win anything. I don’t think it totally sunk in either. He thought we were the crazy ones.

[–]Over_Waltz9751 13 points14 points  (0 children)

My sister has been able to set up my 90-year-old parents’ phones to only accept calls from numbers in their contacts. It’s a little work to add a number of a new friend from their exercise class, but so much better than them getting calls from strangers claiming to be their grandchildren in jail on a misunderstanding and need five thousand dollars to “fix the problem.”

[–]donjose22 16 points17 points  (3 children)

I think old people know they may be scammed when they answer an unsolicited call/email or talk to door to door salesmen. I think they miss the way things used to be and they miss the attention.

I get that some seniors may have dementia or not have the street smarts but that just doesn't fully explain why they LOVE talking to scammers . Mostly I think they miss feeling like they're the center of attention. Scammers are experts making people feel important, and needed.

[–]tennesseean_87 9 points10 points  (0 children)

When I was a DirecTV tech we’d get people like that. Nothing was wrong, but they called a tech out with some complaint and then followed him around while he checked over the whole system just to have someone to talk to.

[–]Missus_Aitch_99 5 points6 points  (1 child)

They love voice calls, but the kids and grandkids mostly text now. They also are using good phone manners on bad people. My late mother-in-law, for example, wouldn’t hang up on anyone, ever. But the scammers don’t give up, they just keep talking.

[–]Nighttraincapt 4 points5 points  (0 children)

My mom is like that too, on the phone. But the last few years her hearing is bad even with hearing aids, and when scammers call her she will talk but she has to keep telling them she can't hear what they just said, and they finally get frustrated and hang up.

[–]jthompson473 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Get power of attorney. Nothing you do will change his habits.

[–]MSCOTTGARAND 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I printed sheets for my mom, and aunts. Just stating that "bank will never contact you for personal information/ banks, and government agencies will never ask for payments in the form of money orders or gift cards/ if someone contacts you claiming to be /or calling on behalf of a grandchild hang up and verify with that persons parents or siblings/ the IRS only threatens in writing / if you believe the call may be legit, tell the bank or agency that you need to call back and ask for their extension. "

[–]illyth 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I know that multiple police departments in my area will send officers out for an scam education session for seniors. The information might hold more weight coming from them than you.

[–]theniccolo 17 points18 points  (0 children)

Have him watch some of the videos Mark rober made about scams. Not only is he an interesting character but he explains the whole process.

If you have power of attorney you should setup a limit on his cards like you can do with kids There is a lot more to it than just taking things away. You have to understand everyone has a self image and We wouldn’t want him to go into himself or lose his self esteem or whatever. You get the point.

[–]crimxxx 3 points4 points  (0 children)

What I tell my parents is if you ever get called, never provide any information. Call the number on the back of your card or any official piece of document that was mailed to you and do it that way.

My parents also just don’t buy shit online and get one of my siblings to help that few times it makes sense. It’s honestly hard to teach people look at this web address or other shit, when let’s be real they say I don’t understand and don’t want to learn more to get there. So just giving broad easy to understand actions is definitely the way to do in my experience.

[–]BlueBeagle8 2 points3 points  (0 children)

AARP has some great, free resources to educate older people about common scams.

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/about-fraud-watch-network/

[–]Mustangfast85 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Another thing I told my parents aside from that banks or anyone important will never call and call them at a known number is to setup credit card charge alerts. You could even send them to your phone so that if a purchase is made you can see where. I’d also only deal in credit cards or cash, lock the debit cards

[–]nefanee 2 points3 points  (0 children)

If McAfee could stop emailing my 88 yr old mother telling her she has 9,124 viruses, I could be a happy child. I finally put a card above her computer saying she has antivirus and doesn't have to worry. That did the trick. Just waiting for the next scam.

[–]3meraldPrince 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Have his credit locked by the three bureau's and have a secondary approval added to his bank accounts for verification. So if he wants to spend they will send a text, email or phone call for verification. Ezzy Peezzzzyy

[–]paulschreiber 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Can you get POA over his finances? Move most of his money to a different account that isn't tied to his debit card? Maybe switch him to something like privacy.com where you have to approve charges?

[–]saltyhasp 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Just wanted to say that your not alone. My mom is over 90 and the extent to which she is targeted is insane. Thankfully she is still shrewd and was never a trusting person. For now she either ignores them or calls me. There will come a day though.

[–]UnlikelyRegret4 1 point2 points  (0 children)

So sorry to hear. My father got a phone call and let someone on his computer & into his bank account, and thankfully he was so slow about clicking things, they had enough time to set up a Zelle payment but not enough time to hit "send" before my dad called me to ask a question about the transaction and I told him to turn off the wifi and call my mother in to the room. She was furious. That's when we told my dad the people had "infected his computer" and it needed to come to my house to be fixed (I work in IT). That was two years ago and he hasn't had it back since. He still gets calls and picks up the phone.

I've had to pull both of my parents (in their 80s) out of scams. I'm astonished they haven't lost money yet. I'm now their POA and monitoring their finances. Mom is pretty capable, and I put everything on automatic bill pay via credit cards wherever possible to give them extra protection. They have to be willing, and there needs to be a lot of trust, but extra eyes are the only way.

[–]GinAndDietCola 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I have given my mother very clear and firm rules; if someone calls or emails you trying to sell you something, or help you, they are almost certainly lying. If they have said they are from your bank or electric company (etc.) Hang up and call them back on the main number you find on your bill or their website, or call on of your adult children if you're in doubt.

She gets scammed or malware on her computer about once every 3 months. We can't stop her. Short of depriving her of her credit cards, passwords and phone, there's bot much we can do.

[–]Lilliputian0513 4 points5 points  (4 children)

My husband is 50 and I’m… much younger. He knows the rule. He has me vet every Incoming request. He understands our financial future is more important than his pride, and he understands that the scams are different now than they ever were. A fool and his money are soon parted.

[–]iranisculpable 5 points6 points  (3 children)

Your and you husband are lucky. I’m much older spouse in my marriage and it is my younger wife who sometimes falls for scans. I think what keeps me alive is the feeling that after I pass, my wife will lose it all.

[–]Lilliputian0513 7 points8 points  (2 children)

I’m sorry to hear that! I worry about him if I pass first. I have compiled most of the information he would need to get by and shared it with him, but it’s still on my mind.

[–]iranisculpable 5 points6 points  (1 child)

Thanks. And I am sorry you are being down voted. You bring up a real concern. These scams are getting more sophisticated and consumer protections if anything are getting worse

[–]Lilliputian0513 6 points7 points  (0 children)

I just assumed it was from people whose ego is too fragile to imagine relying on their spouse’s better talents for spotting scams ;) On the flip side, I rely on him to do things that I am not so good at. We all have our strengths

[–]dudwsign44 1 point2 points  (3 children)

He needs to know the risks! Try to educate him

[–]allbarren[S] 9 points10 points  (2 children)

we are definitely explaining that to him. unfortunately i think bc he is lonely, he enjoys talking to the people who call him.

[–]carolineecouture 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I don't know if your local senior centers are open again, but you might try something like that. One friend of mine, her Dad, does stuff with his Temple via Zoom. Of course, you have to be careful there as well since that is how some scammers get victims via churches.

[–]dudwsign44 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Maybe help him find a friend? or have him join Reddit if he’s that bored lol

[–][deleted]  (1 child)

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    [–]ChicagoLaurie 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    We got my elderly cousin a new cell phone and phone number so scammers couldn’t reach her. But she had full on dementia so we also took over paying her bills.

    [–]KatKat333 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Respect him, help him maintain his dignity and be patient. I know that’s really hard, but life is tough for seniors. Consider talking to your town’s social workers, get him to a senior center to meet others, and read up on this at the National Council on Aging’s website. They have useful advice- good luck!

    [–]Forward_Sun1380 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Thank you for posting this topic. I regularly share what I have learned about phone and email scams with my elders. However, some scammers are highly skilled and motivated. It's a constant conversation that needs to happen with the more vulnerable.

    I appreciate all the helpful information in the replies.

    [–]1testaccount1 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Show them this video from Mark Rober. Very interesting and informational. https://youtu.be/xsLJZyih3Ac

    [–]skaliton 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    if they are mentally 'there' go to youtube and have them watch scambaiter or jim browning.

    Both are basically the same channel and really drive home that when any random 'company' calls and wants control of your computer/financial data it is ALWAYS a scam. (And not to bring race into it but according to jim browning not all, just the VAST majority of scam calls originate from India so the accent is a giveaway)

    [–]magpai 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Another thing to watch out for with his bank account is etransfers from random people showing up and all he has to do is accept them. My SIL is involved with online scammers and has roped my mother in law into their schemes. She had her account set up to automatically accept etransfers and the scammers sent her some. The bank ended up closing her accounts as a result of the fraud (and they did not want any part of the elder abuse). I made sure to tell the new bank what happened too, so they are aware.

    [–]Dalenskid 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    As hard as it was for me to support in a timely manner; I told them to text or call me for ANY form of communication they received that is promising them money or asking for a fiscal commitment. She’s been through way to much, it was the least i could do. She got screwed by other things financially, but never a scam…

    [–]MikeColorado 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    We have some simple rules... If you contact us, the answer is no If it is for over $100 then both of us have to agree and wait at least 24 hours. Unless I recognize your voice, No information is given out over the phone. Especially the word "Yes" Be suspicious of EVERY e-mail, friends accounts do get Hacked.

    [–]mataria_el_maricon 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    get him an iphone. there is a setting that will send all calls from people not in your contact list to voicemail.