Many seniors used to give this advice to their kids, and now those kids who are adults are giving their parents and loved ones the same advice. “Don’t talk to strangers!” This is especially true if the senior is talking with a stranger online.

“Romance scams” are on the rise and involve strangers using the computer to develop an online “sweetheart” relationship with the senior. These scams cost an estimated $1.39 million a year. If a senior in your life suddenly begins talking about someone they’ve met, here are a few questions you should ask:

  1. Where did you meet them?
  2. Where do they live?
  3. Have they asked you for money?
  4. Have you met them in person?
  5. How did they contact you?
  6. Are they offering you companionship in exchange for money?

These should all raise red flags and point to signs of potential trouble.

Keep an eye out for anyone who uses their position of power to force compliance or coerce a senior into giving up personal, financial information.

What can you do to help ensure your aging loved one or an older adult in your family isn’t being taken advantage of? Make sure there is an open line of communication about money and bank accounts. Let your aging loved one know if they are uncomfortable about anyone, or anything, relating to their personal finances to speak up.

Senior Financial Tips brought by Marty Feldman Center for Financial Planning Wayne State Institute of Gerontology and Baldwin Society.

You can listen to previous Senior Financial Tips here.