Seniors are naturally more trusting than younger adults. This is one of the characteristics that is most endearing about them. But unfortunately, it’s also one of the characteristics that scammers look for when determining who to trick (or attempt to defraud). Some estimates suggest that elder fraud impacts as many as 5 million mature adults in America every year.
People who grew up between 1930 and 1950 were typically raised to trust others and always be polite. Those traits are what scammers look for when identifying their next likely victims. Older adults are less likely to tell a con artist “no” than younger adults. Additionally, older adults are more likely to have retirement money or some other type of nest egg. Criminals hope to gain access to that money. They may even come across as sympathetic or friendly to achieve their end goal. To help your loved one stay safe, here are four tips Elder Care Alliance recommends to avoid phone scams for seniors.
1. Don’t Answer Unsolicited Calls
One of the easiest ways to avoid phone scams is to decline to answer unsolicited calls from unknown numbers. Suppose the phone call comes from a legitimate organization or person. In that case, they will likely leave a message (though scammers may also leave messages, so be vigilant!)
It is easier to think critically when listening to a telephone message than talking live to someone on the phone. Unfortunately, when a scammer knows you are listening to them, they can turn on the charm or the threats to pressure you into falling for their scam.
2. Be Skeptical
These days, being skeptical is extremely important. Many scammers have become very sophisticated and may say they’re from the government, the bank, or another trusted organization with authority. Before you give any personal information to someone claiming to be from such an organization, talk to someone you trust and know.
If the person on the other end of the line pressures you to pay money or give personal information NOW, don’t give in. If there is a legitimate problem, the caller will understand why you want to hang up and call the organization back using a publicly available phone number.
3. Never Give Your Personal Information Out Over the Phone
If someone supposedly from your bank or government calls and says they need you to provide them with your banking information, credit card number, Medicare info, or any other personal information, tell them “no.” Explain that you never give personal information out over the phone and that they’ll need to send you the request in writing. If they ask for your address, explain that they should already have your address. Scammers will likely move on to an easier target if you don’t give out any personal information over the phone.
4. Don’t Return One-Ring Calls
Sometimes scammers call numbers and hang up after a single ring. Do not call those numbers back. They may be scams to get you to call hotlines that charge you hefty per-minute fees.
These tips will help keep you and the older adults in your life safe from phone scams. Constant vigilance is key to avoiding falling for telephone scams.