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Dad Is So Susceptible to Scammers



"I’m just a little bit worried about my 80-year-old father and how he engages with scammers. Last week when I arrived at his house he jokingly asked if I brought the check from Publisher’s Clearing House. He apparently had a phone call from someone who said he won millions of dollars and that they would bring a check. Of course, he needed to cover the taxes with a check of his own for thousands of dollars.

Dad seemed to know that the situation was a scam, yet there was this tiny bit of doubt I felt when he was talking to me. He seemed to have about 95% belief that it was a scam and 5% hope that it was real. It’s the hope that worries me. 

Dad has a habit of engaging scammers on the phone. I’m not sure why. It might be because he has the time and possibly that he is hopeful. 

Please weigh in on this. Should I be concerned?"



My answer is yes, concern is reasonable. Your father is getting too close to a hot stove, to use a metaphor. By engaging, he’s exposing himself as a vulnerable target.

Scammers always offer something that’s too good to be true in exchange for your money. It’s human nature to desire the riches they say you’ve won. After all, “what if” it is true. We want it, so there’s a chance we’ll take the steps they outline to get it. The scammers make these calls all day long and are very convincing and very good at keeping you on the line and engaged. The longer you stay on the line the greater the likelihood you’ll get caught up in the scam. The same is true with entering a store. The longer you linger, the greater the likelihood you will buy. 

Once you’re identified as a likely prospect, you will be targeted further. Your father is setting himself up for more attempts and the possibility that one of the scammers will break down his resolve some day.

It can be difficult to convince your father that his actions are unwise. I recommend you do your absolute best to educate him. Provide him with newspaper, magazine, podcast, or other reliable accounts of scams that have occurred. He needs to be aware, and wary. 

I strongly recommend your dad create a pact with his spouse or other family member that he not spend more than a thousand or maybe five thousand dollars without a quick consult with them first. Scammers try to separate you from a rational family member and your father needs to know that. 

Do not delay in educating your father about what’s going on out there. Billions of dollars go to scammers from the elderly in this country. Do not let your father be another statistic.