When my parents were getting older, I used to worry about their health. How long would they remain independent, able to look after themselves? Would my mother’s smoking finally take a toll? How long would Dad be able to play golf, his favourite past time?
What I did not worry about, and should have, was the possibility that someone could con them out of their life’s savings. I was never able to work up my nerve and even begin a discussion about money. (Many of their generation did not think money should be a topic of discussion. My parents belonged to that category.)
I would now, knowing what I know today. June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – a day to recognize that seniors are targets for all sorts of things, including financial fraud. Having a conversation about prevention and protection from investment fraud is a good idea. Maybe even more than a just a good idea.
I should have told my parents that they were targets for scam artists. I should have explained that any request that they received to send money to anyone for anything should be looked at carefully.
Because fraudsters dream up all kinds of clever ways to extract money from seniors – from lottery scams to illegitimate investments promising unrealistic returns. Seniors need to understand that they need to look at every sales pitch sceptically. They should ask for a second opinion before parting with their money.
If my parents were alive today, I would try to make them comfortable talking about money with me. So comfortable that they might even have asked for advice before writing the cheque.
I never did have that conversation.
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