It's also a good idea to keep close tabs on your mom's social circle. Has she acquired any questionable new friends lately, or is she seeing anyone who's giving her advice, financial or otherwise?
Some other tips to protect her include reminding her to never give out her Social Security number or financial information unless she initiated the contact and knows the institution.
Also, see if your mom would be willing to let you sort her mail before she opens it so you can weed out the junk. To reduce the junk mail and/or email she gets, use the Direct Marketing Association consumer opt-out service at dmachoice.org. And to stop credit card and insurance offers, use the Consumer Credit Reporting Industry opt-out service at optoutprescreen.com or call (888) 567-8688 — they will ask for your mom's Social Security number and birth date.
Also, register your mom's home and cellphone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry (donotcall.gov, (888) 382-1222) to reduce telemarketers. And help her get a free copy of her credit report at annualcreditreport.com to make sure she isn't a victim of identity theft.
If you suspect your mom has gotten scammed, report it to your state securities regulator's office (see nasaa.org for contact information), or your state's Adult Protective Services agency (call (800) 677-1116 for contact information) that investigates reports of elderly financial abuse.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or go to SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC's “Today” show, KFOR-TV and is author of “The Savvy Senior” book.