Scams against seniors are more popular than ever. As older adults move into their golden years they rely on email, tablets, social media, and their phone to remain connected to their family and loved ones. While technology is a great tool for keeping us in touch during social distancing and moments when we can’t be close, it also opens the door to scammers who prey on older adults.
While everyone should be mindful of online scams, people who aren’t the most technologically savvy or are experiencing cognitive decline or decision-making abilities are particularly vulnerable. Make sure to educate yourself on the most common scams targeting the elderly and learn how to help your older loved ones safeguard their identity and stay safe from scammers.
Stay connected—regularly call or check in on them
If the senior in your life has a new “best friend,” becomes socially isolated, or seems hesitant in any way to have contact with others unless their caregiver or new best friend is around, this could indicate that someone has a strong influence on the older adult’s decision making and a sign they’re experiencing financial and emotional distress. Make sure you’re getting regular updates into their well being. By asking questions and talking to them you can get a better sense of their mental state and an understanding of their affairs.
Don’t shame them—inform them on the latest scams
Information is power. Many older adults are probably not up to date on the latest scams targeting their demographic. Don’t hesitate to teach your older adult about the dangers of connecting with people on the internet and through social media as well as how common it is for internet scammers to pretend they’re someone else.
By looking out for them and keeping on the pulse of senior citizen scams you give them the ability to protect themselves. Have a conversation about the common scams targeting seniors, red flags to look out for, and what they can do if they suspect someone is trying to fraud them. Encourage them to ask for details in writing before engaging in any financial transactions. Then, if appropriate, have them take those written details to their lawyer, financial advisor, or trusted person for a second opinion.
Properly dispose of paperwork and vulnerable personal documents
Properly dispose of paperwork by shredding it before throwing it away to keep others from getting their hands on your loved one’s personal information. If your loved one doesn’t have a shredder consider getting one for them.
Putting a stop to the junk mail and solicitations being sent to an older adult’s house is critically important for reducing their fraud risk. Unlist your parents’ phone number so scammers can’t get it. Consider replacing the landline with a cellphone, where scam calls are less frequent. To eliminate unsolicited offers for credit, you can go to optoutprescreen.com. Through Direct Marketing Association’s mail preference service you can give their mailbox a makeover and arrange for a ban of five years at a time. Through curating what kind of mail they’re getting you greatly reduce their risk of getting their identity stolen or defrauded.