Protect Elderly Relatives from Credit Card Fraud

If you can, it's best to visit frequently and shred any mail that has personal information on it. If your mom has credit card accounts, you can view account activity online with her. You can even opt out of paper statements altogether. That way, you won't have credit card account numbers within easy reach of whomever is in the room. Credit card fraud could still occur, of course, but by checking accounts online several times a week, you'll notice if something fishy pops up on her statement.

Even if you can't visit often, you can still check her credit card accounts online every week from your own home. But ask for her permission to make sure she doesn't feel like you're invading her privacy.

Keep an eye on other family members: I hate to say this, but often it's family members who rob their own parents or grandparents. If you have a family member with issues, such as drug addiction or gambling debt, then that's a red flag and warrants keeping an eye on things. When someone is desperate for money, they can justify taking it from anyone. They're counting on the fact that no one will notice. You can prove them wrong by keeping on top of credit card account activity.

Look at the mail. You can learn a lot from the mail. Is your loved one getting letters from "charities" asking for a donation via her credit card? If she's getting letters from organizations, she may have sent money to them previously. As suggested earlier, looking at credit card accounts online is a good way to make sure she isn't authorizing payments to fraudulent entities.

Pay attention to new friends: The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse recommends keeping track of any new "best friends." It may all be very innocent, but if it's sudden and there's an age difference, this may be a red flag that someone is planning to commit fraud.

Beverly Blair's Credit Card Expert, Beverly focuses on credit card issues and provides insight about current news that affects the credit card industry and consumers. She's a nationally recognized expert on credit card issues and is also the co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Person-to-Person Lending. Reach Beverly at


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