The stakes are higher than ever as scammers step up their games with more sophisticated and elaborate schemes, sometimes taking thousands of dollars from seniors.

What makes the issue so overwhelming for family caregivers and senior care professionals is that seniors spend a lot of time at home and can become victims everywhere they turn…

when the phone rings,

when the mail arrives,

when there’s a knock at the door

or a new e-mail message,

even when they are working in the yard.

Scammers have found a way to reach seniors at every station in life.

Scams against older adults in North America are on the rise. In the U.S., the annual financial loss by victims of elder financial abuse is estimated to be at least $2.9 billion, a 12 percent increase since 2008, according to the 2011 MetLife study of Elder Financial Abuse.

Listed below are ways to help protect older adults with tips from the Home Instead Senior Care network, the National Association of Triads, and the Better Business Bureau.

•  Shred documents that could be useful to criminals, including bank statements, credit card statements and offers, and other financial information.

•  Insist that a senior check with the Better Business Bureau before he or she acts on a phone call, a piece of mail and a flyer, or agrees to a visit from an unknown person, business or charity.

•  Insist that a senior never give out personal information nor agree to give money over the phone; rather, have the senior ask for written information to be sent through the mail.

•  Add seniors to the national Do-Not-Call Registry. If they do get a solicitation call, instruct them to hang up.

•  Establish a strong defense by posting a “No Solicitation” notice by a senior loved one’s front door and help a senior sort through his or her incoming mail.

•  Find trustworthy people who can serve as eyes and ears for seniors by screening door-to-door scammers and others who seek to exploit by telephone or computer.