Why are Seniors the Number 1 Target for Scams?
Our Seniors today were born between the 1930’s and 1950’s. In that era ‘scams’ as we see in present times did not exist for the most part. People were more trusting. Your word was your bond. A handshake was more binding than a written contract due to the depth of each man’s integrity. Seniors were also taught to be polite. The idea of hanging up on someone was unheard of.
Seniors are more apt to have a nest egg of quick, available funds that the scammer can talk or guilt them out of quickly.
How to Protect Them:
Here are a few of the most common scams currently circulating and how to protect yourself or your loved one against them:
- The IRS: You receive a call stating that you owe back taxes and if you don’t pay XXX immediately a police officer will be dispatched to your door to arrest you. The caller instructs you wire money via Western Union or purchase a gift card and give them the numbers from the card. Either way, the money is instantly gone and there is no getting it back.
- The IRS will NEVER call you. They send written notices to your address. They don’t arrest you, they will garnish your wages or your bank account. They don’t want you locked up, they want their money.
- Fake Relative: You receive a call from your ‘grandson’ stating they are in trouble, arrested, stuck in Mexico, etc. and needs cash wired to them immediately. If the person has grandchildren and doesn’t see them very often this could work. Panic sets in the urgency to protect their grandchild and they spring into action with credit in hand to go wire money per the caller’s instructions.
- Instruct your loved ones to always verify with you before sending money to anyone who asks, including a relative. They should never give out their bank account information, credit card numbers, etc. to anyone over the phone. It may also be a wise idea to require 2 signatures on bank accounts to make a withdrawal over a designated amount, such as $200.
- Computer Tech Support: I have encountered this scam first hand. The caller says they are from Microsoft and claims to have received a notice there a virus on your computer and they are calling to help you fix it. If you follow their instructions and allow them remote access to your computer, they can download all your saved information in a matter of seconds. Computers save websites you visit, user names and passwords. They can have all your info and clean out your bank account before you know what happened.
- Microsoft does not make outbound calls. Instruct your loved ones to never allow remote access to their computer. If they truly have computer problems they should use a local, reputable computer technician to make any necessary repairs.
- Charities: There are many very good charities out there that genuinely help people in need. Unfortunately, there are even more scams that use charities as a front. They will call and use a name that is similar enough to a nationally recognized charity that it fools you into believing they are the real thing.
- A good response to these calls is “Thank you for the information. However, I don’t donate from telephone solicitations. I will do my research and if I find your charity valid I will decide if I want to add it to my list of charities.” You should instruct your loved one to never give money, bank or credit card information to anyone over the phone.
As our loved ones age, it may be necessary to restrict access to their funds. If appropriate, a member of the family can be made Power of Attorney (POA) and handle all financial transactions. If a family member is not available or unable to act as a POA, a Fiduciary can be appointed or retained to handle the responsibility.
Assisting Hands recommends that you speak with your financial institution on how they can help protect your loved one’s accounts. A financial planner can also assist you to protect your loved one’s assets and assist with future financial planning. We also recommend you engage in an identity theft program of your choosing.
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