We’ve all had a time in our life where we’ve been gullible. Maybe it’s someone you trust telling you something that didn’t end up being true, or maybe you were just in a hurry and didn’t have the time or attention to devote to exploring the matter further. Most situations where this happens are harmless and other times it results in being scammed.
Unfortunately, seniors are especially targeted for scams of all types. Maybe the senior in your life isn’t as technology savvy or they grew up in a simpler time where scams weren’t as sophisticated, and it results in them getting taken advantage of. As caregivers, friends, family and loved ones, we want to do everything in our power to avoid that happening. Here’s some tips on keeping the seniors in your life safe:
Take Control of Confidential Information
As we age, we may become more forgetful and need help managing private, confidential information in a protective manner. It may make sense if you are already helping your senior make smart financial decisions that you also get involved with managing their accounts or keeping sensitive information for them.
If they are receiving in-home care, whether it’s medical or something like cleaning, there’s the potential for dishonest people to take advantage of exposed information. Similarly, depending on your relationship with your loved one, you could look into being added onto their financial accounts and having to approve spending over a certain amount. This would prevent the wrong people from draining the account or making fraudulent purchases.
Set Up Fraud Tracking
In the same vain, many banks offer fraud tracking that alerts account holders to suspicious activities. If a purchase triggers their fraud alerts, the card is immediately suspended until they can confirm it’s a legitimate purchase. This service is usually offered for free by many of the major banks, so check to see if their account qualifies.
Similarly, third party services such as LifeLock will monitor your identity, data and credit for as little as $10 a month.
Encourage The Use Of a Credit Card
When making purchases online or at a brick and mortar store, suggest to your loved one to avoid using a debit card when possible. In the unfortunate instance their card information is stolen, a thief could drain an account in a matter of minutes through a debit card. While chances are they would get their money back, some banks only guarantee returning money up to a certain amount, or it can take a couple weeks for the funds to be replaced.
On the other hand, a credit card has a limit and is usually protected against fraudulent purchases. After being alerted, the credit card company typically credits the money directly back onto the card with very little time in between.
Stay Knowledgeable About Current Scams
Finally, as the front line in protecting your senior from scams and frauds, try to stay as up to date as possible with current ones circulating in your area. A quick Internet search for “current senior scams” will turn up a plethora of scams that seniors fall victim to every day. Another great resource is scam-detector.com.
Talk with your loved one about these scams and set up an action plan. Informing them can keep them safe in the long run. Discuss what they would do if they receive a phone call or email with someone claiming to need money for an unpaid bill, medical emergency or lottery winnings.
We can all fall victims to a number of scams. Although seniors are particularly susceptible, it could happen to the best of us. Make sure in your communications with your loved one you reiterate if they think they have been a victim of a scam or have questions about something suspicious to not feel embarrassed to talk about it. Seemingly simple questions can save them, and you, lots of time, heartache and possibly money!