By: Kelley Muhsemann
Communications and Marketing Manager
Although technology has helped many seniors to stay in touch and feel connected with loved ones during isolation, it has also opened the door for new and improved scams targeted at the aging population. In fact, a recent Federal Trade Commission survey found that older consumers reported higher individual median dollar losses than younger adults. In addition, the study found that the highest aggregate reported losses for older adults were caused by romance scams, government imposter scams, prize, sweepstakes, and lottery scams.
Consider the below tips to help safeguard yourself or your loved ones from becoming a victim.
- Block scam phone calls. Contact your phone provider – whether landline or cell phone – and find out how they can help you block “robo calls.” In addition, whenever you receive a phone call from an unwanted number on your cell phone, you can block the number so that they cannot contact you again.
- Monitor your money. We suggest account monitoring services such as LifeLock to our family of clients to help protect against fraudsters. In fact, some of our staff has been using Lifelock for nearly a decade to protect and keep a pulse on their own accounts. Also, consider setting up direct deposits for things like social security, pensions, and paychecks, so that physical checks are not being mailed to you for anyone to intercept.
- Protect your information. You should never give out banking information, such as your account number or password, or your social security number in an e-mail or phone call. Also remember to shred and properly dispose of any documents or pieces of mail that list personal information or account numbers.
- Know the tactics. Scammers tend to have common traits, and all rely on similar tactics. They stress urgency, exclusivity, and play on emotions (like fear or excitement). They also always demand money or information up front. Usually, scammers will request funds by wire transfer, but sometimes they will ask you to add money to reloadable debit cards or purchase gift cards, and then ask for the registration numbers. Remember that no government agency will ever ask you to wire money.
- Offer to call back and research. Never call back a number or click on a link that an unknown caller or e-mail offers to you. Only call using a number or e-mail you find from the agency’s official Web site. You can also research the company or agency by typing the company name into Google along with the word “scam” to see if anything comes up. This is especially helpful for detecting scammers who claim that you have won a prize, or that someone you know is in trouble.
- Hire help. If you notice that you or your aging loved ones need some assistance managing finances, consider hiring a care manager, personal concierge, or a daily money management company. They can help with tasks like bill paying, balancing checkbooks, negotiating with creditors, and can suggest additional steps to guard against scams.
- Pass this information on to a friend. The FTC has started a campaign called “Pass it On,” filled with information on specific scams, and how to handle them. You may not have received a scam call or e-mail, but chances are you know someone who has. Be sure to share what you know and speak with your loved ones about what they can do to help prevent fraud.
Remember to ask questions, be skeptical, and get feedback from someone you know and trust, and never wire money, purchase reloadable debit cards or gift cards, or provide personal information such as your social security number.
R.W. Rogé & Company, Inc. helps clients Plan, Achieve, and Live the life they want. To learn more about how we do this, click here. To discuss your financial future with a knowledgeable Senior Wealth Advisor, contact us at 631.218.0077 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary consultation.