How to help older people targeted by scammers

TOLEDO, Ohio (13abc Action News) - Thieves and scammers are targeting older Americans, stealing their money and their savings. Experts say there are things you can do to protect your family.

They're the most susceptible to falling for the sob story on the phone or the mailer that looks real but with your help, you could help prevent them from becoming the next victim.

"The situation is a crisis because the con artists are always after seniors," said Dick Eppstein with the Better Business Bureau.

It’s a crisis the BBB sees far too often: Someone calls an older man or woman and lays out the scam. The pitch is one of many, maybe they owe the IRS money or a grandchild on the other line who's in a foreign prison.

"The weapon of choice to cheat seniors is the telephone. They're so easily cheated by telephone calls," said Eppstein.

How do they find seniors? It turns out these crooks have probably been following them for years especially if they've ever entered a contest or responded to any mailing or call.

"The con artist have all kinds of access to databases. Shadow databases that the rest of us don't have access to or know about. And they know who the seniors are," said Eppstein.

So if you have a family who gets the calls like this, you need to step in now?

"A lot of times the safest thing to do is gradually get a power of attorney for the senior and get the checking accounts and the banking accounts out of their hands," said Eppstein.

It's easy to talk about having this talk. It's another to actually have it. You might worry about their reaction but if you don't have that talk today, remember a thief might be talking with them tomorrow.