It’s a sad fact that seniors are particularly vulnerable to scammers and fraud. Sometimes they’re not tech-savvy and may struggle with hearing, sight, or memory changes. Scammers take advantage of these deficits, but everyone is vulnerable. However, with some knowledge and a little help, everyone can stay safe from fraud.
Talk About It
It can be embarrassing for seniors who’ve been a victim of fraud. Don’t shame them. Have an honest conversation about what happened and what to do differently in the future.
Protect Your Assets
Scammers will frequently ask for financial support in the form of cash, gift cards, or cryptocurrency. No matter how convincing their pitch is, don’t send it.
Frequently, requests for financial support include a scenario intended to make you move quickly. Things such as a loved one in jail, a prize that has yet to be claimed, and so on… Slow down. If this scenario is true, nothing will be lost by taking the time to verify it.
Be aware that crooks often insist on secrecy. If it’s a real need, no one will be harmed by checking into the veracity of the situation.
Be Safe Online
Use a password manager and ensure every online account has a unique, complex password. Also, ensure you’re using up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software.
Never click on links or attachments in unexpected emails or texts. Scammers sometimes clone legitimate sites, so always verify before clicking or downloading anything.
If a pop-up window appears on your device claiming a technical problem, take a screenshot or picture of it and shut it down. That alert is most likely a hoax. Show the photo to someone you trust who can determine if it’s real or not.
Protect Your Personally Identifiable Information
Keep important information like your social security number, Medicare, and credit card accounts secure. Please do not share them over the phone or online unless you know you’re talking to someone you trust.
Watch Your Credit Card and Bank Statements
In addition to checking statements when they’re ready, you can ask your financial institutions to send you real-time alerts when the card is used or when specific criteria are reached, such as purchases made from out of the country, large purchases, and low balances.
Get Copies of Your Credit Reports
Everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year. Check your credit report from each major reporting bureau at least once a year and set up a credit freeze to prevent anyone from setting up an account or borrowing in your name.
Be Safe On the Phone
If a call doesn’t make sense, asks for money, or feels confusing, you can have a refusal script prepared. For example, “I never send money or give out personal information over the phone.“ or simply hang up.
Get Social Media Savvy
Check your privacy settings and lock your posts down so only friends can see them. Never accept a friend request from someone you don’t know.
Just as it is in person, there’s such a thing as oversharing on social media. The mass public doesn’t need to know your vacation plans, daily routine, or detailed personal information. So those posts asking you to share “fun facts” and repost them to your friends are collecting information scammers can then use to guess your passwords and password hints.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of fraud, report it to local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission. You’ll be taking a stand and might help prevent someone else from falling victim to the same scam.
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