November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to raise awareness about caregiving and to educate, support and encourage family caregivers. According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), there are an estimated 3.4 million family caregivers in Texas who provide care for older adults and individuals with disabilities. BBB celebrates those family members who provide ongoing support for their loved ones and who safeguard their physical and financial well-being.

Not only do caregivers provide for the physical needs of their loved ones, they must often oversee their financial needs as well. Scams against older adults generate billions of dollars each year for criminals.

BBB provides the following tips for caregivers to help them care for the ones they love:

Warning signs that financial fraud may occur

  • Frequent junk mail and spam calls. Incoming junk mail (illegitimate sweepstakes offers, etc.) or receiving frequent calls from people offering valuable rewards or asking for charitable donations are signs that fraud could easily occur, or may have already occurred.
  • Unfamiliar payments are being made. Checks written or payments made to unfamiliar or out-of-state companies should be a red flag.
  • Acting secretively about phone calls or messages. When an individual hides or acts secretively about phone calls and messages, it could be a sign that they have engaged a scammer.
  • Sudden problems paying bills or buying food and other necessities. A sudden lack of funds could mean that an individual’s money is being drained in some form of scam activity. The cause should be investigated to rule out fraud.

Tips for helping your loved one

  • Become familiar with common scams targeting older adults. Knowing the most common tactics used to target older adults can help you more easily identify when scams occur.
  • Emphasize the criminal nature of telemarketing and email fraud. Help your loved one learn how to identify it and help them understand that these tactics are illegal. In participating, it is possible they could be pulled into criminal activity unknowingly.
  • Encourage the person to ignore phone calls and messages that appear suspicious. Don’t reply to, or click links within, emails or text messages that they are not familiar with.
  • Have a calm discussion about securing accounts and monitoring finances. Helping older adults monitor their finances can be a great way to prevent scam activity and identify it if it has occurred.
  • Help the person change his or her phone number. If constant calls continue, it may be worth changing the person’s phone number. Registering the number with the Do Not Call list is a great first step, although scammers won’t necessarily follow the Do-Not-Call list laws. If unsafe calls continue, it may be best to change the phone number.
  • Take care of yourself. Caring for another is no easy task. Studies show that as many as 70 percent of family caregivers experience depression or anxiety. Many develop chronic health problems at nearly twice the rate of non-caregivers. Remember to recharge by taking time for yourself, eating healthy and exercising. Consider respite care for a bit of necessary extended breaks. The Take Time Texas site provides several resources to help caregivers get the rest they need.

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For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call BBB at 903-581-5704 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.

Reporter/Deputy Editor

I am a lifelong East Texas resident with a passion for reporting local news. I recently graduated of the University of North Texas with a degree in journalism. In my spare time, I love to read, play drums and brew the best coffee I possibly can.