When elderly parents become victims of a financial scam, it’s often their adult children who are left to pick up the pieces.

Doing so can be time-consuming, costly and stressful. It can be difficult to even discover exactly what happened, especially if parents are embarrassed by the fact that they were victimized or fearful about possible retribution by the scammer, says Michael Liersch,head of behavioral finance at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in New York.

Parents may also deny they’re being victimized and be unwilling to let their children help at all. And in any case it’s often very difficult to recover all of the parents’ money. Still, there are steps children can take to try to limit the damage and protect their parents from being scammed again.

Running into walls

About two years ago, Angie Kennard had a feeling that something was “off” with her then 79-year-old father. During visits and on phone calls, the Fairfax, Va., mother of four says, he would tell her about the “girlfriend” he met online and would occasionally send money to.

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