Protecting Your Senior Loved One from Scams
According to the FTC, 76% of the people who reported being the victim of a scam between January and August of last year were over the age of 50, and 56% of them were over the age of 60. While everyone is at risk of being the victim of fraud, seniors are often directly targeted.
Today, you’ll find a wide range of scams, from fraudulent prizes and destitute African princes asking for money to “utility workers” who claim that an urgent repair must be completed in the senior’s home. Why are seniors so vulnerable to scam artists? Chances are that seniors are directly targeted by scam artists simply because they’re easier to contact. Many seniors are retired and spend more time at home. They’re more likely to answer their phone and read the junk mail that clutters their mailbox.
Keep reading to learn how to identify a scam, as well as some measures that you can take to protect your senior loved one from becoming the victim of a scam artist.
Knowing the Signs of a Scam
While there are countless scams floating around, most of them follow the same basic patterns of persuasion.
1. A Sense of Urgency
To make an offer that’s hard to pass up, many scam artists will work to create a sense of urgency by telling their target that they have to act immediately in order to benefit from the offer. Other times, a scam artist posing as a professional roofer or utility worker may knock on the senior’s door and tell them that they have a home repair that must be taken care of immediately.
2. Manufactured Excitement
The scammer may make a show of being excited that the senior would have won such a wonderful prize. Oftentimes, a victim that falls prey to such a tactic gets caught up in the excitement that they forget to ask questions and make sure that everything is legit.
3. A Play for Sympathy
This tactic is used both on the phone and in scam emails. A senior may receive a message from someone pretending to be an old friend or even a government official who has fallen onto hard times and is in need of money. Generally, the recipient is instructed to wire money, with promise of a refund or even a generous amount of money in return.
4. Fake Winnings
From drawings that were never entered to prize money for a lottery ticket that was never purchased, fake winnings are a classic tactic of scam artists.
Guarding Against Scams
There are several simple, non-confrontational ways to help protect your senior loved one from being the victim of a scam.
Remind Them to Ask Questions
No matter how urgent something sounds, it’s important to take the time to ask questions. Scam artists are intentionally vague on details, so insist on receiving everything in writing, and never feel pressured to make an immediate decision.
Help Them Guard Personal Information
Remind your senior loved one to never give out personal information, including their social security number and bank account or credit card information.
Help Balance Their Checkbook
Help your senior loved one balance their checkbook, watching for large withdrawals, payments made to companies that you’re not familiar with or duplicate donations to charities.
Teach your loved one how to file a complaint with your state’s Consumer Fraud Bureau. This resource not only lets seniors report scams that they’ve encountered, but it also allows them to monitor common scams that are circulating in their area, making them less likely to be caught off-guard and vulnerable.
By ensuring that your senior loved one is educated on the different types of scams and what to do if they’re the target of a scam artist, you can help making sure that they’re protected.