In most scams, the elderly are targeted more often than other age groups and tend to fall victim more often too.
Why are the Elderly Targets for Scammers?
Scammers target the elderly because they are considered a naïve segment. They may be lonely, willing to listen, and more trusting than younger generations. Many scams against the elderly are performed over the phone, door-to-door, or through advertisements. You need to educate older relatives on what type of behaviour to look for since they are prime targets of scams. Most scams on the elderly are attached to credit cards, sweepstakes, contests, charities, health products, magazines, equity skimming, investments, home improvements, insurance, and banking or wire transfers.
What Tactics do Fraudsters Use to Take Advantage of the Elderly?
There are numerous tactics that fraudsters use to get the elderly to fall for their scam. Scammers can be sympathetic, friendly, and willing to help in some cases, or they will use fear tactics in other cases. Help your parents protect their digital and physical documents and information by warning them of tactics that fraudsters will use to scam them out of their money.
How to Protect Elderly Parents
Educating your parents on scams out there is essential to protect them from scams, but here are five tips to help protect elderly parents from scammers.
1. Regular Calls and Visits – make sure to keep in touch with your parents, ask about visits or calls they may have received. Be cautious if your elderly parent has a new friend. They become socially isolated or never available to come to the phone or hesitate to have contact unless a caregiver is present. These signs could indicate that someone influences the senior’s decision-making or behavior.
2. Block Solicitation – opt-out of commercial mail solicitations for your parents. You can arrange to ban up to five years at a time with Direct Marketing Associations mail preference services. There are ways to get your number on a no-call list that blocks it from the view of solicitors and scammer. It is good to have discussions and warn elderly parents about answering phone calls from unknown numbers.
3. Set up Protections at the Bank – if you are concerned about your elderly parent’s financial decision-making, you can set up a small account at the local bank for them. The account can include checking with a spending limit and a debit card. This helps to ensure other finances are saved in a separate, more secure account.
4. Arrange for Limited Account Oversight – ask financial institutions to send alerts and statements to a trusted person who has no immediate access to your parent’s accounts so that they can check for any fraudulent behaviour.
5. Don’t Just Tell Your Parents to Hang Up or Throw Away Letters – you need to talk to your parents and explain why they need to hang up on people or throw away letters. Explain that you can’t win a contest that you never entered or never pay fees to collect lottery winnings. Also, government agencies do not make unsolicited phone calls, and they won’t ask for personal information. Never give banking information out over the phone. If they think something is fishy, hang up, then dial the agency.
Other Steps to Consider to Protect Elderly Parents
- Unlist elderly parent’s phone numbers so scammers cannot get the number. Consider replacing their landline with a cellphone, where scam calls are less.
- Put your parent’s address on an opt-out list. Once this is done, legitimate vendors won’t send junk mail, and your parents will know that any mail that arrives is fraudulent from scammers.
- Review their credit report to make sure that no fraudulent new accounts have been set up in their name.
Be diligent in educating and helping your elderly parents about new scam threats going around, as long as old ones that scammers are trying again. It’s vital that they understand not giving their information out over the phone, or letting people into their homes, etc., to help keep the sage from scammers.