Financial Self-Defense for Seniors
Scams that target older adults are on the rise, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Fraudsters believe seniors are more trusting than younger adults and are more likely to have significant financial resources. It’s a combination that makes them an irresistible target for criminals looking for victims.
If you are the adult child or caregiver for a senior, this information can help you protect them from financial losses.
4 Scams to Educate Seniors About
- Hacking: One of the most common ways hackers are able to access cell phones, tablets, and computers is through programs and system software that aren’t updated. While many people see these updates as time-consuming and prone to problems, most include resources designed to help protect you from hackers. Strong passwords are also important. Remind your senior loved ones not to use their pet’s name, street address, or even worse, default passwords.
- Phishing emails: These fraudulent emails look so realistic that it’s easy to see why seniors fall for them. The best line of defense is to encourage your loved one not to open emails from any source they don’t recognize, to automatically delete chain emails from friends, and to never click any links in an email. Phishing scams work best when they appear to be a “warning” from the older adult’s bank or other financial institution. A link contained in the email encourages the senior to click and be taken directly to their account. In reality, it’s a fake site designed to capture the senior’s personal information.
- Sweepstakes scams: These have been around for decades because people of all ages continue to fall for them. It might be a phone call to notify the senior that they’ve won a car or a trip. Sweepstakes scams also come by mail. The catch is the winner has to “pay the taxes” or a shipping fee before the prize can be released. Sweepstakes-style scams cost Americans more than $111 million in 2017.
- Identity theft: This type of crime occurs when a thief gains access to someone’s personal information and uses it for their own financial benefit. It might be done by stealing a senior’s Medicare card or driver’s license. Criminals use the information to open credit card accounts, receive medical care, set up utilities, and even steal tax refunds. That’s why it’s important to store credit cards, insurance cards, and tax information in a secure location and avoid keeping them in a purse or wallet. The Federal Trade Commission created IdentityTheft.gov to help people who believe their identity has been stolen. Information on the site will walk you through how to report it and steps you can take on a senior’s behalf to help them recover.
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