4 Full Proof Ways to Protect Your Loved Ones from Scams

Older people are often considered easy targets for scams. This usually takes the form of financial fraud that abuses their trust, lack of technological know-how, or their diminished physical/cognitive abilities. Here’s how you can stay in the know and protect your loved ones from falling prey to these fraudsters.
1. Know the most common scams
The first step is to be aware of the most common scams being used today. These are very often done over the internet or telephone. But can also take place in person.

  • Charity scams
  • People may be approached and asked for donations to non-existent charities that take advantage of their goodwill.

  • Email/phishing scams
  • People could receive email messages that seem to be from a legitimate financial institution asking them to update or verify their details. The fraudsters then use this data to access their funds. Some are also tricked into downloading free software (such as an anti-virus) that infects their computers and steals their personal information.

  • Phone scams
  • These are very common among older people. Scammers pretend to be family members and ask for money to be deposited into their account. Other tech-savvy scammers request remote access to the victim’s computer, directing them to unknowingly download a virus that skims their computer for information.

  • Investment Schemes
  • Many people fall victim to pyramid schemes that promise great returns yet never deliver. Others may be duped by the Nigerian prince or fake inheritance scam that requires the user to send money in order to release a large sum of cash from a deceased relative or foreign royal.

  • Sweepstakes and lottery scams
  • The victims are told that they have won money in a sweepstake but must pay taxes and fees to have it deposited into their bank account. After paying the fees, the ‘prize money’ is never sent.

  • Social media and dating site scams
  • People in search of companionship may be befriended by bots or scammers online. These scammers then convince the victim to send gifts of money for various personal needs. This can take place over many years, with the victim paying thousands to the fraudster over time.

2. Look out for the warning signs
If you’re concerned that a loved one may be falling victim to a scam, there are some signs you can look out for that indicate they are being taken advantage of. These include seeing unusual changes to their bank account details, abnormal cash withdrawals, or sudden use of their ATM cards. Also keep an eye on whether their rent, utilities and other bills are being paid into the correct accounts on time.
3. Keep your loved ones informed
Most scams generally promise the opportunity to make a lot of money quickly. Let your loved ones know that they should be suspicious of offers that seem too good to be true. Tell them not to trust strangers or ever hand over personal or banking details. Make sure they don’t throw out mail or bank slips with personal or financial information before shredding them first. In addition, for phone scams where someone pretends to be a family member, get them to ask a few personal questions to verify their family member’s details first.
4. Act swiftly
If you think a loved one is being scammed, it’s important to take action immediately. Call their bank or credit card company to cancel their ATM cards and reverse any fraudulent payments. Reset all password-sensitive accounts, and be sure to educate your loved one on the most common scams and how to avoid them.

Seniors are often the target of scams. Find out about the most common scams that senior people are most likely to fall for, and how to help your loved ones avoid fraudulent activity.