When February starts, most of us are getting into the swing of things after the New Year, and focusing on the year ahead. We find that many of our clients, friends, and  neighbors are also looking forward to Valentine’s Day. While it can be easy to celebrate with those around us, how will you celebrate with your aging parents, especially when they live a significant distance from you?

We know this can be challenging when your senior parents do not live close to you. Remember, though, that holidays such as Valentine’s Day can lead to seniors feeling more isolated than usual. This is important to remember as it is something that cyber criminals and bad actor scammers are very aware of, as well. In fact, studies tell us that seniors during this time of year are often more vulnerable to “lonely heart” scams in February than any other time throughout the year.

Knowing that this is a very real possibility, what can you do now to help your aging parents protect themselves? What tips can you give them, and follow yourself? Let us share six ways you can protect your aging parents from senior scams this Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.

1. Watch out for strangers. This is not just a warning for children. It should be something all of us are aware of. While the majority of the strangers we meet are well-meaning, it only takes one to cause harm. This is especially true when it comes to online strangers.

2. Be suspicious. When it comes to online relationships, your aging parents can never be too careful. Remind them to monitor how new relationships form and to be very suspicious of someone who is completely unknown who tries to begin a relationship. Ask them to let you know about new relationships they form so that, together, you can make sure the person is legitimate in their search for friendship.

3. Share communications openly. As we shared above, ask your aging parents to be as open as possible. They may be more trusting than you are. Remember that you need to be compassionate and empathetic in your response, and be careful in the warnings you share with them.

4. Never share financial information. Remind your parents that if someone is trying to form a new relationship there is no reason for them to ask for financial information. Bank accounts, investments, and other secure information should be protected at all times.

5. Strengthen relationships in the local community. Encourage your aging parents to be involved in their local community. Getting out of the house and engaging with others can decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation, which cyber criminals depend on.

6. Update your aging parents’ estate planning documents. Your parents need to be protected at all times. This includes times when they may not have capacity. When they have Florida estate planning documents in place, they have a trusted agent who will have legal authority to advocate for them in the event of a crisis.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. If you suspect your aging parent has fallen victim to a senior scammer, there is never a wrong time to report it. Encourage your parents not to wait to plan forward and do not wait to contact us to schedule a meeting now, or any time in the future.