Have your aging parents ever mentioned receiving a suspicious text message or email asking for their bank account details? Millions of older adults fall prey to identity theft, fraud, and financial scams every year since they are the most vulnerable population. To protect your loved ones from such dangers, don’t hesitate to educate them about the tell-tale signs of a financial scam.
Types of Financial Scams
Your loved ones may think they could never fall for a financial scam, but it’s more common than you know. Here are the most popular type of scams to look out for:
- A loved one in trouble – Scammers often notify an older adult saying their grandchild has been arrested or been in a car accident and that they need money immediately. The best course of action is to verify whether or not this situation is true by calling your grandchild’s own phone number.
- Natural disaster scams: Natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and more can bring out the best and worst in people. Scammers usually target those who are affected by the disaster and need support. One way they connect with people is by impersonating a charity organization to retrieve personal information from them. Thoroughly vetting an organization is best before getting involved with them.
- Phone calls from the Social Security Administration (SSA): There has been a spike of phone calls that threaten legal actions or arrest if the individual does not return their call. The caller may also offer to help activate one’s suspended social security number. It’s useful to know that the SSA will not threaten arrest and rarely calls a person unless there is ongoing business with them.
Why are Older Adults Most Vulnerable Targets for Financial Scams
Older adults tend to spend more time at home, increasing their odds of picking up a call from a scammer or answering the door. At the same time, this demographic has the most disposable income on their hands while being more trusting. Loneliness plays a huge role as well. If your elderly parents are isolated or spend most of their days alone, they may get overly excited about one message, email, or phone call even from a stranger.
Recognizing Financial Scams
There is no way to stop scammers from calling, but you can protect your loved ones from financial scams with these tips:
- Limit your parents’ purchases online to credible retailers only.
- Start a conversation about the reasons your elderly parents should never click on attachments, links, or pop-ups that could add malware to their computer.
- Remind your elderly parents not to share personal details online which include their passwords, PIN number, bank account number, social insurance number, and any others.
- Monitor your parents’ monthly credit card and bank statements and encourage them to report any unfamiliar transactions or discrepancies immediately.
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