As Valentine’s Day approaches, does your widowed mother or father remember and talk about the flowers, chocolates, and romantic dinner dates that were a part of how they celebrated Valentine’s Day? Sadly, many aging adults suffer a higher incidence of loneliness and social isolation because family members, friends and spouses have moved on or passed away. Protect your aging parents today.

The loneliness and social isolation of aging adults is further aggravated by scammers and criminals. These elements use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to take advantage of “Lonely Heart” seniors and exploit them financially. In fact, financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that law enforcement sometimes calls it “the crime of the 21st century.”

Are there ways adult children can protect their aging parents from “Lonely Heart” scams? Exploiting seniors is not only appalling, it is also illegal. Adult children can definitely help their vulnerable parents by getting involved early. Let us share a few tips with you on our blog.

First, teach an aging parent these four tips on how to spot an online relationship scam.

1. If someone seems too perfect, they probably are.

2. Scammers tend to move quickly from expressing emotions to asking for money.

3. After meeting in a shared forum, like Facebook, scammers will often try to get seniors to communicate in a private online setting, like email, messenger apps, or phone. Instead, tell an aging parent to break off communication.

4. Warn elder parents about emotional manipulation. It is a serious red-flag, for example, if someone professes deep-seated love online and then starts pushing for personal information or money.

Second, present the six Lonely Heart do’s and don’ts to your aging parents and be sure they understand them.

1. Never send money or credit card information online to someone you have never met in person.

2. Never send personal information that can be used for identity theft.

3. If you are going to buy something, stick to reputable and secure websites.

4. Cut off contact as soon as someone online starts asking for credit card, bank, or government ID numbers.

5. Do your online research. Scammers like to steal photos to use in their profiles and use false information when grooming senior victims.

6. If you feel your senior parent has been targeted, shut down all communication with the suspicious person and contact the police and the oversight function for the online forum.

These are just a few of the ways adult children can help protect their aging parents from “Lonely Heart” scams. If you believe your parents have been the victims of an online financial scam, do not wait to contact law enforcement and an experienced attorney to learn more about your rights, as well as, appropriate courses of action.

We know you may have questions about this, and many other, elder care issues. At the Perlin Estate Planning & Probate our credentials enable us to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to our legal services. By building relationships with our clients, we are also able to understand each client’s needs and desires, and we support such goals through thoughtful, comprehensive planning techniques. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.