Scam artists often seem to target older adults because they’re generalized as being more trusting and more easily confused than others. Whether or not that’s true, you can help protect your parents and the other older adults in your life by following a few simple steps:
- Add phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry. Many scams aimed at older adults are phone scams. Even if a telephone offer is not an outright scam, seniors may be talked into buying things they don’t really need. By putting their number on the registry, you’ll eliminate most unwanted phone calls. Explain that if they continue to receive solicitation calls, they’re much more likely to be from a scam artist. Encourage them to just hang up on such callers.
You can add phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry on www.donotcall.gov.
- Secure financial account numbers. Make sure your older family members are not carrying their account numbers and PINs on a piece of paper in their purse or wallet. If necessary, help them change their PIN to a number they’ll have an easy time remembering. You can also help them find a trusted loved one who can keep a record of important account info as a backup.
- Warn about in-person and online scams. Alert your parents to fraudsters who appear at the door offering to fix the roof or the driveway, or pointing out a supposed problem with the house. Tell your parents not to sign up for anything unless they’ve talked to you or another trusted loved one first.
In addition, warn them about phishing e-mails. These are bogus messages appearing to come from banks, department stores or even the government, requesting personal information. The real purpose is identity theft.
- Keep the communication open. Talk to your parents often. Ask them about purchases they’ve made or offers they’ve received. If you’re willing, offer to help keep their financial records in order. That can give you the chance to spot any unusual payments they’re making. Encourage them to talk to you before they make any big purchase or accept any special offers.