First of all, the elderly in assisted living homes are not the only victims of scams. Regardless of whether you are 76 or 26, you too can fall victim to a scam. After all, there are multiple malicious methods of conning people from their personal information, money, or identity.
Of course, if you are the type of person that is less comfortable around technology, then you might not know what many common scams actually look like. If such a person is targeted by a scam, they will have a harder time seeing it for what it is
The good news is that the solution to avoiding scams isn’t complicated. All it takes is some education. So whether it’s you or an older loved one in this position, acquiring the right information is the key to staying safe in today’s online world.
To discover more of the tactics that scammers use to steal your personal information, start with this list of seven scams that people fall victim to all the time, and are often aimed at the elderly. Seniors with memory issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s can be especially susceptible.
1.) Investment Opportunities
These can be among the most tempting scams out there because, let’s face it, who would want to pass up the opportunity to make an easy buck off of a smart investment? When investing real money, though, it’s advised to only invest through credible and established organizations. For example, it’s a good idea to filter new investment opportunities through your financial advisor whom you already have an existing relationship with. Do not send any information or money to companies falling outside of your normal boundaries.
2.) Prize Claims/Sweepstakes Winnings
Many people have a weakness for gambling, and most of us love to win something. Of course, sometimes these winnings will sound (and likely are) too good to be true. It’s even more likely to be a scam if it comes from a dodgy-looking website online, a random letter in the mailbox, etc. While it might be tempting to want to claim your big prize, don’t give any of your information away until you can validate the legitimacy of the company offering it to you.
3.) Clinical Trials
This kind of scam can frequently look very official. But the truth is that this is a method often used by scammers to steal your information. For instance, one may be tempted by an offer of free medical support through compensation or research for participation. However, you shouldn’t be fooled by this. If you find a clinical trial that sounds like something you’d be interested in joining, the FTC suggests that you Google the name of the trial along with the words “complaint,” “review,” or “scam.” Then you will see reports online confirming whether the project is legitimate or not. Some assisted living homes can also help in finding legitimate clinical trials.
4.) False Identity Phone Calls
When trying to avoid scams as a senior, it’s vital to keep in mind that a scammer might choose to employ strange methods of stealing your information – even by impersonating one of your relatives! So if you happen to receive a phone call from someone asking for help and claiming to be a family member, and their voice sounds a bit different, or they are using a different phone number, or they don’t give you their name, then you should be more than a little suspicious. If you aren’t sure, it would be wise to reach out to one of your other family members to confirm the request before sending any money or help.
Also, this type of scam will frequently involve creating a sense of urgency, such as a grandchild being arrested for DUI and needing bail money straight away. Remember to jot down the phone number of the caller and confirm it with a different family member. Don’t wire or send any money straight away, even if the situation sounds extremely dire.
5.) Government Requests
Frequently the government requests information from us during routine procedures like renewing a license or during car registration. Scammers take advantage of this fact by forging fake government documents that appear quite like formal requests. Whenever a government agency asks for information from you, make sure to verify the website or email address that the request came from. If something doesn’t look quite right, then don’t send the information and contact your local authorities, like the public office building or local courthouse, to verify the origin of the request.
6.) Computer Tech Support
Computer tech support scams are surprisingly common. One common instance is when a user browses social media or other websites, the scammer will use a fake pop-up claiming to be from tech support, and they will use a fake email, phone number, or other chat feature. And the person behind the chat will eventually ask for access to your computer in order to “fix the problem.” But of course, they have no intention of doing so. This sort of scam can be readily avoided by only using official chat features from reputable websites. If you do not know where to ask for help about something, then talk to your family or friends to get some assistance.
How to Be Safer From Scams Online
Unfortunately, our online world and the convenience it offers have also made it even easier for scammers to scam people. They can do it through website pop-ups, social media posts, or fake email addresses.
Therefore, you should always be very careful online and remember not to provide your personal information and details through unsecured methods (such as bank details through personal email information on a random website). Be sure to do background checks on companies that request any of your personal information and get assistance from family or friends to help you make more informed decisions.
If you do happen to fall victim to a scam, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. It’s perfectly fine to ask for assistance. Those living in assisted living homes, such as our facility here at Sabal Palms, can ask for help or talk to a caring staff member. The quicker you can share the problem and the situation, the quicker it can be resolved.
Have the contact information on hand for your local police, bank, credit union, and Adult Protective Services in the event of an emergency. There’s no reason to live in a permanent state of fear when doing activities online. You just want to keep your privacy and security online in the back of your mind so that you won’t be fooled by any suspicious actors!