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The Risks Of Online Shopping For Aging Parents

Online Shopping Fraud

With an elderly parent who has memory problems, or who is a little confused, online shopping can become a trap for them.

Occasionally, purchases don’t go as planned. A senior may lack the capacity to handle such situations, including difficult return instructions, or dealing with scammers attempting to take advantage of them. They may also face obstacles obtaining a reimbursement or having charges removed from their account. In such cases, they require the assertiveness, persistence and focus necessary to make sure they are not taken advantage of.

Here are a few examples of real-life complaints we hear about online shopping from families of elders who are struggling.

An 88-year-old grandpa keeps ordering things online. He remembers he ordered something and orders it again. When the adult children visit, they find piles of unopened AmazonAMZN -0.5% boxes, various packages, and empty boxes piled up in the entryway of the grandpa’s house. He is confused and cannot explain what he bought.

Recent widow 79-year-old uses her late husband’s online account to order for herself. But, she keeps getting subscription deliveries her husband had for items she can’t use or doesn’t want. She is unable to stop the subscription deliveries. Even though she tried to stop the subscriptions, she is still being charged.

In an attempt to stop her shopping addiction, an 80-year-old woman hoards unopened boxes of items she ordered. Her house fills up with her out-of-control purchases. Her family asks her to stop but she ignores them.

The best way to protect aging parents is to set up a monitored, limited credit card. When Grandpa has access to a credit card, this is usually a good solution. He can watch his spending and stop it when necessary. The card won’t work on sites the family blocks.

Improper charges should be disputed

If charges still appear on statements, your aging parent is protected by the law. The FTC recommends disputing any charges that seem unfair.

A hoarding problem

This is a mental health issue, and family members are unable to persuade their loved one out of hoarding, since it has no logical explanation. To manage the situation better, family may be able to appoint an attorney to execute a Power of Attorney document, allowing them to monitor financial transactions more closely. Returning as many items as possible and limiting the use of credit cards could help contain the amount of hoarded items. Hoarders have strong emotions towards the things they acquire; in some instances they are even addicted to shopping. Though there will surely be resistance, through constant monitoring hoarding can be dealt with more effectively. This is never easy.

Family members of aging parents who don’t manage online shopping will need to get involved directly. To protect elders from confusion and its expensive consequences, careful planning, good timing and cooperation by all may be required. Ignoring this can make things worse over time. You can be watchful and intervene as necessary.


Editorial Director
I'm Shruti Mishra, Editorial Director @Newsblare Media, growing up in the bustling city of New Delhi, I was always fascinated by the power of words. This love for words and storytelling led me to pursue a career in journalism. In this position, I oversee the editorial team and plan out content strategies for our digital news platform. I am constantly seeking new ways to engage readers with thought-provoking and impactful stories.

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