S is for Senior Scams and How to Avoid Them

S is for Senior Scams and How to Avoid Them

Unfortunately, as you age you become a target for senior scams of all kinds. There are many different ways and reasons why a scammer may target someone in their senior years, but most likely these scams revolve around taking money from a vulnerable population. Thanks to technology rapidly changing and becoming more integral parts of our everyday lives, many seniors have trouble keeping up. And this makes them the perfect target for a potential scam. 

While scams in general are on the rise, seniors tend to be the most vulnerable population. While there are many activists concerned for seniors and for protecting them, it is important to protect yourself and any seniors in your life now. Keeping your loved ones safe from scams is important. And keeping up with things yourself will make you less of a target down the road. 

Here are a few ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from senior scams:

Make sure you designate a trusted contact on your Investment Account

If your advisor notices diminished capabilities, they will reach out to your “trusted contact.” Therefore, your advisor should also be able to educate you, and your “trusted contact” on behaviors that may indicate a decline in basic skill sets.

Never give your personal information over the phone

Never give your Social Security number, banking information, Medicare, or other personal information over the phone. Unless you made the call, this is likely a scam. Likewise, be aware of someone trying to sell you something that they claim will be covered by Medicare. Call Medicare directly and protect your Medicare number as you would your Social Security number. Also, be sure to review all banking, investment, Medicare and credit card statements carefully.

Take yourself off all calling and mailing list

Go to the National Do Not Call Registry and register your phone to help stop telemarketers from contacting you. Be vigilant about collecting your mail. And don’t leave it sitting in your mailbox for too long.

Check your credit rating regularly

Go to AnnualCreditReport.com often. And, most importantly, check for any unusual or incorrect information.

Be alert to the risk of strangers and of those close to you

Elder abuse is often committed by the person’s own family members. Do not agree to joint checking accounts, or the promise of services that are not delivered. And keep in mind, you do not need millions in the bank to be abused or scammed.

Stay involved in the community

Isolation becomes a substantial risk factor for elder abuse. Visit the Eldercare Locator to find services nearby that can help you stay active. Or contact your local senior center to get involved.

Don’t buy from telephone solicitors

Ask telemarketers to send you written information. Or just tell them you never buy from phone solicitors. Above all, never give them your credit card! And if you do receive written information, always check their authenticity.

Use direct deposit for your benefit checks

Sign up for direct deposit for any income. This decreases the chance of income checks being stolen from your mailbox. With direct deposit, money is directly deposited into your account and is protected by your bank.

Use the internet with caution

Knowing how to use the internet is helpful at every age. But if you are not hyper-vigilant about cyber-security and the latest technology,  you may fall prey to scammers. Beware of pop-ups or suspicious emails. Clicking on the links may download a virus. And a virus has the potential to take personal information from your computer. So make sure you use firewalls and anti-virus protection.

If you think you are a victim of a scam, don’t be embarrassed to talk about it. You must act without delay.

Contact your bank and credit card company immediately. And cancel any debit or credit cards linked to the stolen account immediately. Reset all your passwords. And go to Adult Protective Services (APS). Every state has one, and report the incident immediately. APS is responsible for receiving and investigating reports of elder abuse and exploitation.

Know how to avoid senior scams to protect yourself and your loved ones. Above all, stay vigilant and report scams as soon as you know about them.


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