Technology is a wonderful tool when it enables us to stay connected, do more, and share information. Unfortunately, it can also be used as a weapon, specifically with our vulnerable populations who are easily susceptible to scams. Some of the newest trends in scams are very convincing and personalized, that anyone could fall victim. Scammers, especially ones after large sums of money, take the time to learn your personal information, hobbies, spending habits, and about your family. They will pose as real people with seemingly reasonable requests – a financial advisor, debt collector, romantic connection – but after too long it will always turn aggressive and forceful with requests for money or access to sensitive information.
The good news is that there are tried and true ways to protect yourself and those you love from scams. The bottom line is that it requires you to remain vigilant, be cautiously skeptical, and know-how common scams work. Keep reading for strategies you can use to protect an aging loved one from falling victim to a scam.
First and foremost, keeping our elders safe from scams requires staying involved in their lives and affairs. This doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task where you micromanage everything, but it does mean having regular conversations, asking thoughtful questions, and being an extra set of eyes on things like bank statements. Touching base once a week and looking over their financials once per month can provide a tremendous safeguard to stop scams before they’ve gone too far. You can spot odd behaviors, address any confusion with something they’ve been told by someone else, and stop incorrect or fraudulent charges before they surmount into something much bigger. A little added effort now will save you all frustration and regret in the future.
Make Seeking Advice Easy and Welcoming
Next, be sure that you are approaching your aging loved one about this issue in a way that’s welcoming and encouraging. You don’t want to make them feel incompetent or embarrassed. This will only push them away and potentially cause them to hide any of these important issues from you, especially if they think they did something wrong. Reinforce that you simply want to help and protect them, that you’re happy to be involved, and that you’re always available for advice – on truly anything! As technology increases at such a rapid pace, positioning yourself as a trusted resource who can help shed light on complicated matters will be a welcome safeguard in their lives.
Have Safety Nets
And finally, you can’t be everywhere all the time, so put some safety nets in place. This might mean keeping credit card limits very low. There should not be a need for them to put a large sum on their credit or debit cards, or to withdraw cash from their bank account. Your loved one is likely on a fixed income, so determine what allowance per month is appropriate and help them feel empowered to spend that money to meet their wants and needs. Should they wish to spend above that allowance, it simply requires a conversation. This will help you assess new expenses outside of their regular budget and help them make wise choices. Even if it’s not a scam, an unnecessary, large expense could have negative repercussions. You can help them be good stewards of their resources while still empowering them with limited responsibility.
Additionally, there are many tools and technology that allow you to get alerts should your loved one receive or respond to an email, text, or phone call that appears to be a scam or phishing. With a little research or by asking some trusted resources in senior care, you can identify the best tools to create technology safety nets for your loved ones, so they can talk, text, and surf safely.
If you have someone in your life who is susceptible to scams or easily overwhelmed and confused by technology, the best thing you can do is to remain vigilant and to talk often about signs of scams. Be active in their lives enough to know where ill-willed people may be able to reach them and be intentional about limiting their exposure to providing sensitive information. The effort you take today can save them from a harmful situation!