Many people have seen spam emails that appear to be from a relative or a long lost acquaintance. Often these emails express the need for a large sum of money for some type of emergency or situation. Common sense would tell you that this is a scam. However, this is only common sense to those who have grown up with the Internet, or at least have had it around for a good portion of their adult lives. What about someone for whom the Internet is still a relatively new thing? For many seniors, it is not so easy to detect scams like this or other different types of scams that come in the mail or by phone.
There are numerous reports of people knocking on the doors of seniors, offering to reshingle their roof, clean the gutters, or fix the cracks in the driveway. All the senior has to do is pay up front. Unfortunately, many older people are trusting, pay the money, and never see the thief again. In other cases, a scam artist may develop a relationship with an older person, only to abscond with their money, or even worse – their financial information. Then there’s the phone calls from a seemingly reputable institution, like a bank, informing a senior that their credit card or bank account has been compromised. The scam artists says that if the senior would just provide their account numbers, card numbers, or social security number, the issue will be resolved.
Now more than ever it is important for an older person to be protective of their money, especially when they have spent their lives saving the money they are now living on. Seniors can be generous, and want to donate to some good cause or hire a “nice boy” to help fix the house. Moreover, seniors have lived many years, and rightfully believe that they have seen it all and couldn’t possibly be deceived.
What can be done to help a senior avoid becoming the victim of a scam? A senior’s caregiver or loved ones can keep an eye out for unusual activity on the senior’s financial accounts, if they have access. If not, watch for changes in the senior’s lifestyle. It’s common for an older person to be embarrassed and hide the fact that they’ve been robbed. If “new friends” suddenly show up in a senior’s life, spending unusual amounts of time with the senior, sit down and talk with them, get to know them. A scam artists may not want to stick around long for a chat and answer pointed questions. Make sure a senior knows to shred any compromising information that exists as a hard copy. Above all, simply make sure that an older loved one knows what’s out there, and what can happen. Information is power, and in this case, security.