In today’s digital age, where connectivity and convenience are at the forefront, it’s essential to recognize the vulnerability of our elderly loved ones to phishing scams. These scams, often perpetrated through deceptive emails, phone calls, or messages, target seniors’ financial assets and personal information, leading to devastating consequences. According to a CBS News article titled “How to protect elderly parents from financial scams” these scams can result in financial losses and emotional distress for older individuals.
As concerned family members, one proactive step to protect our aging parents is to become their guardian. This article delves into the process of becoming a guardian in the state of Maryland and outlines strategies to shield your parent’s financial assets from scammers.
Understanding the Threat: Phishing Scams on the Elderly
Phishing scams involve fraudsters posing as legitimate entities to deceive individuals into revealing sensitive information such as financial details, passwords, and personal identification. The elderly are particularly vulnerable due to factors like cognitive decline, social isolation, and limited familiarity with technology. Scammers prey on their lack of digital literacy, making it crucial for family members to step in and provide a protective shield.
Becoming a Guardian in Maryland
If you’re concerned about your parent’s vulnerability to scams and believe they may not have the capacity to make sound financial decisions, pursuing guardianship could be the answer. Guardianship empowers you to make legal and financial decisions on behalf of your parent, ensuring their safety and security. In Maryland, the process involves the following steps:
- Petition for Guardianship: You’ll need to file a petition with the local Maryland Orphans’ Court or Circuit Court, depending on the specific circumstances. The court will appoint an attorney to represent your parent’s interests and evaluate their capacity to manage their affairs.
- Assessment: An evaluation will be conducted by medical professionals to determine your parent’s mental and physical capacity. The court will consider this assessment to decide whether guardianship is necessary.
- Court Hearing: A court hearing will be scheduled where all relevant parties present their arguments. If the court determines that your parent is incapacitated and in need of a guardian, you may be appointed as their legal guardian.
- Responsibilities: As a guardian, you’ll be responsible for managing your parent’s financial assets, ensuring their bills are paid, and protecting them from financial exploitation.
Protecting Financial Assets from Scammers
Once you’ve become a guardian, it’s imperative to take proactive steps to shield your parent’s financial assets from phishing scams and fraud. Here are some strategies:
- Educate: Teach your parent about the dangers of phishing scams, emphasizing that they should never share personal or financial information over the phone, email, or online messages.
- Monitor Communications: Keep a close eye on their communication channels. Regularly review their emails, texts, and phone calls to identify any suspicious activity.
- Set Up Fraud Alerts: Work with your parent’s financial institutions to set up fraud alerts. These alerts will notify you of any unusual account activities.
- Secure Online Presence: Help your parent secure their online presence by enabling strong, unique passwords for each account and using two-factor authentication whenever possible.
- Limit Personal Information Sharing: Advise your parent to be cautious when sharing personal information on social media platforms, as scammers can use this information to craft convincing phishing messages.
- Stay Updated: Stay informed about the latest scams targeting the elderly. Subscribe to newsletters from trusted sources and share this information with your parent to raise awareness.
As our loved ones age, they become more susceptible to phishing scams that can jeopardize their financial security and overall well-being. By taking the initiative to become a guardian, you can play a pivotal role in protecting your parent’s financial assets from scammers. The process might involve legal steps, but the peace of mind that comes from ensuring your parent’s safety is invaluable. By educating, monitoring, and implementing preventive measures, you can create a strong defense against phishing scams and empower your parent to navigate the digital world safely. Remember, your vigilance and care can make all the difference in preserving your parent’s financial stability and peace of mind.
Our Guardianship Attorneys Can Help
Contact the Law Offices of Thomas Stahl to learn more at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280, or reach us online to book your consultation today. Our skilled attorneys can provide in-depth answers to your pressing questions regarding adult guardianship in Maryland.