Seniors are more vulnerable to scams and identity theft than any other age group. The Financial Fraud Research Center reports that fraud costs people $40–50 billion each year.3 And according to the National Center for Victims of Crime, Americans who are more than sixty-five-years-old are most likely to be victims and incur financial loss.4
This is why home computers, phones, and mail are areas of concern for older adults—that’s how criminals take advantage of them. Take a look at how to protect your parents from financial scams so you can equip yourself with knowledge and educate your loved ones.
Seniors are all too often victims of phishing scams. Jake Schroeder, cybersecurity expert at Medical Guardian, explains, “Many of our senior loved ones didn’t have the benefit of growing up with computers and may not be fully aware of the dangers present in the online world. When you receive a suspicious email or pop-up, it’s always best to stop and take a minute to consider the content. Malicious hackers can take control of your computer when you simply click on a malicious link or open an attachment, so if you receive a suspicious email that you weren’t expecting, it’s best to just delete it.”
Installing malware-fighting software on all home computers also prevents viruses and decreases chances of being hacked.
The government never requests Social Security numbers, banking information, or credit card numbers through the mail. Seniors who receive mail asking for money or any of this information should throw it in the trash. Also, sign up for the National Do Not Mail List to declutter your mailbox and avoid getting junk mail.
It’s alarming when someone calls you claiming you owe them money. It’s also enticing to believe someone who says you won a free trip. Criminals know this and prey on the elderly as easy targets. Those eighty-five and older are at most risk, especially since around 20% have cognitive impairments of some kind.5
Seniors should learn the warning signs of fraudulent calls. Hang up if you feel uncomfortable or get a loved one involved if you’re unsure of the validity of a caller. Get caller ID to screen calls from unknown numbers and sign up with the National Do Not Call Registry to prevent telemarketers from calling in the first place.