Have your parents ever told you about a dubious email or text message they got requesting that they change their account information? Or did the caller tell your grandparents that they needed remote access to their computer to fix their password since it had expired?
Seniors are more likely to fall for scenarios like these, even if they may raise serious red flags to you and are becoming more widespread.
We’re here to assist you with the elder financial abuse protecting your loved ones from the scammers that prey on them.
Why are senior citizens fraud targets?
Financial frauds that prey on senior citizens are opportunistic: Seniors frequently spend more time at home, increasing the likelihood that they will answer the door or pick up the phone when a fraudster calls. Additionally, older folks may be wealthier and more dependable.
During COVID-19, scammers preyed on seniors’ vulnerabilities by promising to schedule vaccination appointments or mail COVID tests in exchange for credit card numbers or banking information. This made seniors particularly susceptible to scams, financial fraud, and elder abuse.
Here are some tips on how to guard against elder fraud;
If your parents or grandparents live a solitary or lonely lifestyle, they might be delighted to receive a call, email, or instant message from someone eager to talk about current affairs and learn about their day, even if that person is a total stranger. These alleged “romance scams” prey on elderly people who lack social support.
Keep scammers at bay.
Your mother-in-law calls to inquire whether she should click the pop-up window to claim a prize for being the millionth visitor to a website. After assuring her that the sweepstakes win is a hoax, begin a discussion about why she should never click on pop-ups, links, or attachments that may contain malware.
Inquire about their passwords as well.
Instead of using generic passwords like Canuck123 to log into websites and devices, assist them in creating strong passwords that are difficult for scammers to guess, and remind them not to reuse passwords for multiple accounts. Make sure their antivirus and antispyware software is up to date to prevent scammers from gaining remote access to their data.
Use caution while shopping.
Your parents may enjoy online shopping, but make sure they only buy from retailers they know and trust. Show them how to look for a padlock or “https” in the URL to ensure a site is secure—and reassure them that if a deal appears too good to be true, it probably is.
Safeguard their social media accounts.
Assist your parents in updating the privacy and security settings on their social media accounts to limit who can see what, and make sure they understand that they should only accept friend requests from people they know. Even if they are flattered by the attention, remind them to delete messages from strangers who fell in love with their profile images and want to get to know them better; they are probably only searching for money, not love.
Keep track of monthly statements.
Check your parents’ monthly bank and credit card statements and encourage them to report any discrepancies or unusual transactions as soon as possible. You can also set up bank InfoAlerts to receive emails or app notifications when there is new account activity. Statements should be shredded rather than thrown away. It’s also a good idea to assist them in annually checking their credit reports for unauthorised accounts or other signs of identity theft.
Request that they list you as a reliable contact.
Having them list you as a trusted contact is one of the best ways to shield your loved ones from scammers and other types of financial abuse. Although the Trusted Contact Person isn’t permitted to make financial decisions, it will enable you to communicate your worries about their financial and personal welfare to their investment advisors.
What should I do in the event that a loved one has been duped?
Fraud may happen to anyone, at any age, and falling for a scam can be embarrassing (and your parent might not want to tell you out of fear they’ll be seen as incompetent). To prevent others from falling for similar scams and to alert organisations to this kind of fraud, it’s critical to report scams.
The actions you should take if a loved one has been defrauded are as follows:
Gather any receipts, emails, texts, or other evidence of the fraud to give to police enforcement. The easier it is to investigate the scam, the more information you can supply.
Replace all passwords.
Your parents should go online and change the passwords for all of their bank, credit card, and investment accounts, as well as their social media profiles and other sites that store personal information. It is critical to use strong and unique passwords for each account.
Notify your family and friends.
If a scammer targets your parents, it’s likely that they’re also targeting other loved ones. Discuss your experience and encourage your parents to do the same to ensure that others do not fall for the same scams.
Wrapping It Up
Fraudsters will never stop committing these crimes, and their tactics will evolve in response to current events and new and emerging technology. The more you know about common scams (and their proclivity to prey on elderly people) and the more ways you can encourage your ageing parents to protect themselves, the less likely they will be to fall victim to scammers.