6 Easy Ways You Can Protect Seniors from Vicious Scammers

April 3, 2017

Seniors are one of the most vulnerable members of our society to scams. Scammers are more than eager to take advantage of seniors. What makes seniors such a desirable target for scammers? Nest eggs, potential diminished mental capacity, blissful ignorance, or lack of knowledge about how information is dispersed makes seniors fresh meat for any scammer looking to make a quick buck. What can you do for your loved one to make sure that they don’t fall prey to a malicious scammer?

1. Block telemarketers – input your loved one’s landline and cell phone number in the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry (https://www.donotcall.gov) Doing this will cut down a lot of unwarranted solicitations and potential scams.

2. Ignore unfamiliar numbers - Unfortunately, scammers have gotten more sophisticated as they have bypassed the Do Not Call registry. Sometimes, legitimate businesses and entities will call you from an unrecognized number. For example, some universities will call or text students if there are no classes on a given day due to inclement weather. If you answer a call from a number that you don’t immediately recognize, it’s best for that call to go unanswered. If the caller represents a real business, he or she will leave a voicemail.

3. Shred every personal document – Personal documents that include sensitive information like bills, insurance statements, policy information, and credit card statements are gold for scammers and identity thieves. Don’t make it easy for them to steal your identity by leaving these documents intact! Shred or cut up these papers so they won’t be able to recognize any valuable info.

4. Make sure donations are legitimate – Real charities are registered with your state’s attorney general. If your loved one has a cause they really believe in and are cutting checks to this cause, make sure it’s going to an actual charity. There are notorious scammers that have malicious operations disguised as real charities when all they do is pocket whatever funds they receive.

5. Turn spam filters on – Periodically check in on the emails and newsletters your loved ones receive.  Are they getting suspicious solicitations from Nigerian princes or convincing emails from a would-be IRS agent? Gmail has a tab system that separates lots of promotional emails from the primary inbox. There are still some bad players that know how to craft convincing emails, so be vigilant about what your loved ones subscribe to.

6. Pay close attention to “new friends” – Sometimes scammers can masquerade as acquaintances, colleagues, or even friends. Has your loved one been spending more time or talking more about a brand new friend that seemingly appeared out of nowhere? Watch that new friend like a hawk as that person could very well try to take advantage of your loved one’s trust.

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