No matter your age, no one is immune to scams. Like many of us, older adults are often targeted by con artists. Many victims don’t ask for help until it is too late! Better Business Bureau recommends the following precautions to help your friends, family, clients, or patients avoid fraud.
Warning signs that fraud may occur
- Frequent junk mail and spam calls. Incoming junk mail (illegitimate sweepstakes offers, etc.) or receiving frequent calls from people offering valuable rewards or asking for charitable donations are signs that fraud could easily occur or may have already occurred.
- Unfamiliar payments are being made. Checks written or payments made to unfamiliar or out-of-state companies should be a red flag.
- Acting secretively about phone calls or messages. When someone hides or acts secretively about phone calls and messages, it could signify that they have engaged a scammer.
- Sudden problems paying bills or buying food and other necessities. A sudden lack of funds could mean an individual’s money is being drained in some form of scam activity. The cause should be investigated to rule out fraud.
Tips for helping your loved one avoid fraud
- Become familiar with common scams targeting older adults. Knowing the most common tactics used to target older adults can help you more quickly identify when scams occur.
- Emphasize the criminal nature of telemarketing and email fraud. Help your loved one learn how to identify it and help them understand that these tactics are illegal. In participating, it is possible they could be pulled into criminal activity unknowingly.
- Encourage the person to ignore phone calls and messages that appear suspicious. Don’t reply to or click links within emails or text messages they are unfamiliar with.
- Have a calm discussion about securing accounts and monitoring finances. Helping older adults monitor their finances can be a great way to prevent scam activity and identify if it has occurred.
- Help the person change their phone number. If constant calls continue, changing the person’s phone number may be worth changing. Registering the number with the Do Not Call list is a great first step, although scammers won’t necessarily follow the Do-Not-Call list laws. If unsafe calls continue, it may be best to change the phone number.