Seniors can be vulnerable at times and, unfortunately, scammers play on that. It’s unpleasant to think about – but educating loved ones on ways to keeping seniors safe from scams is vital.
While seniors can and do fall victim to online scammers, many con artists approach seniors the old fashioned ways: Door to door, or with a letter or telephone call.
8 Tips to Keep Seniors Safe from Scams
Thankfully there are several things caregivers can do to help protect seniors from scams.
Check On Loved Ones Regularly
The first step to helping seniors avoid being conned is to check in regularly. Stay in touch with the older adult in your life, and maintain a good relationship so they feel safe to talk with you about their life. Ask about calls or visitors, and check to see if they’re getting any letters that look suspicious. Open lines of communication are the first step to identifying a problem.
Talk To Seniors About Scams
Seniors come from a generation that tends to be more trusting. After all, it wasn’t uncommon for a handyman to go around the neighborhood looking for work, or for neighbors to drop in on each other. It’s a lovely trait to have but sadly it leaves older adults open to the attention of scammers.
Sit down with your loved one and talk with them about scams. Explain the importance of never giving out personal information, bank details, or money away, even if the person sounds genuine. Explain that a genuine caller will always be willing to let them take time to make a decision, and provide proof of who they are.
Ask For Proof
Speaking of proof – ask for it! Encourage your loved one not to do business with anyone who can’t provide their business name, address and telephone number in writing. Talk them about asking for proof of these details that could scare off a scammer.
Should they get a call from a Government agency, ask that agency for an official letter. If they get an email from a bank, show them how to always log in on the official web page, or call the bank directly for advice.
It’s OK To Wait Before Responding
Let your loved one know that if they’re in doubt, they should hold off on responding until they talk to you or another trusted caregiver. Make sure they have regular contact with a trustworthy friend or family member.
Explain that anyone who pressures them to take action or give personal information immediately, is likely a scammer. Tell them it’s best not to buy services from door to door handymen, or respond immediately to phone calls asking for money or personal details for charity donations, computer repairs, or to check details for a database.
When your love one lets you know they’re concerned about something, check it out thoroughly before helping them respond.
Practice Delay Tactics
Even after talking with your love one about scammers, they might still feel frightened or pressured when someone calls. Practice tactics they can use, such as saying “I never respond to requests right away” or “I will take time to discuss this with my family.”
Let seniors know that it is always ok to end a conversation or hang up the phone.
Install a Peep Hole
A peep hole is a great way to help seniors stay safe. You might even consider adding a doorbell that has an intercom system. That way, seniors can check who is calling and ask for credentials without having a face to face conversation. This helps them feel more protected.
Put Seniors On The Do Not Call Registry
Put your love one on the do not call registry – this will decrease the amount of telemarketing calls, but may not eliminate them altogether. You can register their phone number at donotcall.gov, or get assistance by calling 1 (888) 382-1222 .
Sign Your Loved One Up For Internet Classes
Several libraries and community centers hold internet and computer classes for seniors – check to see if there are any in your local area. Taking a class helps seniors build up confidence and become more adept at using the internet, and spotting potential scams.
It’s a sad fact of life that there are so many scammers out there. However, with a few simple steps and some honest conversations, you can help protect seniors and show them how to be secure and safe.