If you’re worried your senior loved one might fall victim to a scam artist, you should be. The numbers are staggering: according to the FBI, more than 105,000 citizens over 65 were scammed in 2020, losing a combined total of almost one billion dollars. Seniors were most often victimized by this criminal activity, which included financial frauds and confidence schemes, because they tend to be trusting, likely have savings and/or own a home, and may be less inclined to report fraud because they either don’t know how to or are too embarrassed.
It’s often up to caregivers to recognize a scam has been or is being committed, or better yet, to prevent one in the first place. Resources like an assisted living placement company can be invaluable in helping families and seniors stay safe because these agencies are staffed by experts who know what to look for, offering practical solutions. Read on to learn more about precautions and how to stay protected.
Some Common Senior Fraud Tactics
In order to avoid being taken advantage of, it’s important to become familiar with common tactics that scam artists employ to gain trust and access assets. Below are some common ploys:
- Romance scam: Criminals will pose as interested romantic partners on social media or dating websites to capitalize on their elderly victims’ desire to find companions.
- Tech support scam: Criminals pose as technology support representatives and offer to fix non-existent computer issues. The scammers gain remote access to victims’ devices and sensitive information.
- Grandparent scam: Criminals pose as a relative—usually a child or grandchild—claiming to be in immediate financial need.
- Government impersonation scam: Criminals pose as government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute victims unless they agree to provide funds or other payments.
- Sweepstakes/charity/lottery scam: Criminals claim to work for legitimate charitable organizations to gain victims’ trust. Or they claim their targets have won a foreign lottery or sweepstake, which they can collect for a “fee.”
Sitting down with your loved one to warn them about the potential for being victimized is an essential first step. Make sure to remind them that just because you are taking the time to discuss this issue doesn’t mean you think they’re incapable of recognizing a scam on their own or that they’re destined to be victimized. Reassure them that you just want to do whatever you can to protect them and that talking honestly about the dangers is extremely helpful. Let them know you take similar precautions in your own life!
How to Protect Your Senior Loved One
If you suspect your elderly family member or friend has been targeted by a scammer, there are several things that can be done: either confirm something illegal is happening, avoid being scammed, or negate the possible consequences.
- Resist the pressure to act quickly. Scammers create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure victims into immediate action. Call the police if you feel there is a danger to yourself or a loved one.
- Never give or send any personal information, money, jewelry, gift cards, checks, or wire information to unverified people or businesses.
- Make sure all computer anti-virus and security software and malware protections are up to date. Use reputable anti-virus software and firewalls.
- Disconnect from the internet and shut down your device if you see a pop-up message or locked screen. Pop-ups are regularly used by perpetrators to spread malicious software. Enable pop-up blockers to avoid accidentally clicking on a pop-up.
- Take precautions to protect your identity if a criminal gains access to your device or account. Immediately contact your financial institutions and monitor your accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.
Being proactive and informed can go a very long way toward protecting a senior from becoming a scamming statistic. Senior Care Authority is an expert assisted living placement agency with the knowledge and expertise you need to help your elderly loved one stay safe.
To find out more about Senior Care Authority and our suite of services, get in touch today.