In this day in age all of us are susceptible to identity theft but seniors or the elderly are still a main target for many scammers. Often the reason they are targeted is that they were raised in a time of politeness, this can cause them to be extremely trusting. More often than not they live alone or a far distance from family members. They also might have a retirement account, pension, or other monthly disposable income.
Loneliness can also play a part as a senior might jump at the chance to have a conversation with a telemarketer, scammer, or even a door to door 'salesman'. Whether you live across town or across the country there are ways in which you can help keep your elderly loved ones identity and financial wellbeing safe.
- Have candid conversations regarding the following:
· Door-to-door repairmen. Ask that they call you directly regarding any supposed repair no matter how urgent the person at the door makes it seem. They should NEVER sign a contract, give a payment, or provide financial information to that person.
· Telemarketers. Explain that they should not accept anything that is said over the phone as truth. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For example make sure to warn them about companies calling and saying that they have won a trip, a car, or free trial of any service. Explain that they should never give credit card information, their social security number, or any other financial information to the person calling
- Buy them a shredder. Ask that they shred any and all documents with identifying information such as: bank statements, bills or invoices, credit card offers, etc.
- Put them on the National Do Not Call Registry ( www.donotcall.gov )
- Explain that any government or law official will be able to provide proof of their title, a letter on official letterhead, an address and phone number, and will allow the senior time to call a loved one to investigate the validity of the situation.
- Visit or call your loved one regularly. By staying connected and involved in their lives you will be able to keep track of: spending, suspicious calls or mailings, new 'friends' etc.
For more information on recent scams geared towards the elderly, ways to prevent scams and identity theft or to register a complaint visit: http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors/