Be an informed consumer. Take the time to call and visit the store before making a purchase. Take a friend with you who can offer some perspective to help you make tough decisions. Also, read all contracts and purchase agreements carefully before you sign, and make sure all of your requirements are in writing. Understand all contract cancellation and refund terms. As a general rule that governs all of your interactions as a consumer, don’t be pressured into making purchases, signing contracts, or committing funds. These decisions are entirely yours.
Protect Your Loved Ones: Signs to Watch For
If you know or care for an older adult romance scam, here are some additional warning signs that they may be a victim of financial abuse:
- There are unusual recent changes to the person’s accounts, including atypical withdrawals, adding new people, or sudden use of an ATM or credit card by an older person.
- The older person suddenly seems confused, careless, and scared.
- Utility bills, rent, mortgage, medical or other essential bills are not paid despite receiving adequate income.
- A caregiver does not allow others access to the older person.
- There are loads of mailings for sweepstakes, magazine subscriptions, or “free giveaways,” meaning they can be on “sucker lists.”
Each state operates an Adult Protective Services (APS) program, which is responsible for receiving and investigating reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older persons, and in most states, abuse of younger adults with severe disabilities.
APS is the “911” for elder abuse. Anyone who suspects elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation should file a report. The identity of the complainant is protected. APS services are confidential, so the outcome of the case may not be known to the complainant. APS respects the right of older people to make their own decisions and live their lives on their own terms. However, in cases of cognitive impairment, APS will take steps to protect the older person to the extent possible.
Steps to take if you are a victim of a scam
If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to speak up, waiting can only make it worse. Do this right away:
- Call your bank or Credit Card Company.
- Cancel any debit or credit card linked to the stolen account.
- Reset your personal identification numbers.
Also, contact legal services and Adult Protective Services, if warranted. To find your local offices, visit the Noble Ally Finance Security Locator or call toll-free +1 402-819-8463 Monday through Friday from 9 am to 8 pm Eastern time.