In an era where technology has revolutionized communication, it has unfortunately also given rise to an alarming increase in fraudulent activities. 2022 witnessed a staggering nearly $8.8 billion loss due to various scams. One particularly vulnerable group that bears the brunt of these scams is our senior citizens. Many sophisticated scams target seniors and the vulnerable.
While scams have taken on various forms, the insidious online, email, and telephone scams have disproportionately targeted seniors, capitalizing on their limited familiarity with digital platforms. As we examine this concerning trend, it becomes clear that many scams target seniors, and safeguarding our seniors against scams is a matter of financial protection and preserving their dignity.
10 Tips to Protect Yourself Against Scams
Because older adults are often perceived as easy targets, many senior citizens fall victim to scams and financial fraud – including marriage fraud. However, regardless of age, anyone can find themselves caught in the middle of a scam. By becoming familiar with the common tactics scammers use and tips to combat them, you can take measures to protect yourself against scams.
Always Verify the Email Address
It’s essential to look beyond the sender’s name and scrutinize the email address. Scammers often adopt familiar names to deceive recipients, so ensure the email address matches the person or entity the sender claims to be.
Look for Any Grammatical Errors
Many scammers in foreign countries do not speak English as their first language. Watch for grammatical mistakes, typos, and errors, which can be red flags indicating a potential scam.
Beware of Requests for Personal Info
Financial institutions and reputable organizations will never solicit personal information or PINs via email or phone. Always refrain from divulging sensitive data to unsolicited callers or emailers.
Watch Out for Urgency
Scammers frequently use urgency as a manipulation tactic. If a caller insists on immediate action or demands urgent payments to avert a crisis, this is almost always a sign of a scam attempt.
Allow the Browser to Keep Your Password
Instead of storing your passwords in a note, document, or other separate location, allowing your browser to save your passwords for easy log-in and extra security is advisable. It is more likely that your personal computer will be compromised than a large tech company that supports your browser, such as Google Chrome.
Set up Two-Factor Authentication
The meaning of two-factor authentication is in the name: you need “two factors” to log in. This means someone accessing your account would need a password and a secondary factor, such as a code sent to your phone, to log in. Setting up two-factor authentication can provide an added layer of security for your information and online accounts.
Only Use Your Work Email Address for Work
Do not give your email to work clients. Your work email, such as Outlook, is often more secure and may receive fewer spam emails.
Regularly Monitor Accounts
Some scams can happen when you’re not looking. Regularly review your financial statements and accounts for unusual or unauthorized transactions, as timely detection can prevent extensive damage.
Use Strong Passwords
Creating strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts is a good idea. Combining letters, numbers, and symbols enhances security and reduces the risk of unauthorized access.
Regularly Update Devices
It’s important to keep all your devices, including computers, smartphones, and tablets, updated with the latest operating system and security patches. Outdated software can be more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
How to Protect Your Elderly Loved One Against the Many Scams That Target Seniors
The federal Elder Justice Act of 2010 defines financial exploitation of the elderly as “the fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act . . . that uses the resources of an elder for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain, or that results in depriving an elder the rightful access to, or use of, benefits, resources, belongings, or assets.”
Elder scams are abuse, and your senior loved one deserves to be protected from these cruel, deceitful schemes. By arming them with the knowledge and tools to navigate the digital landscape safely, we can empower them to reclaim their peace of mind and protect their financial futures.
Educate Your Vulnerable Loved One
As responsible family members and caregivers, we must initiate candid conversations with our vulnerable loved ones about the reality of scams. Express to your loved one that seniors are often viewed as easy targets, urge them to embrace skepticism, and help them become educated on common tactics and safe practices.
Enroll in Technology Classes
AARP is offering FREE online technology classes on protecting your personal information online. They will share tips on staying safe online and recognizing online scams. Learn more at Digital Skills Ready at 50+.
Report Scam Incidents
Anyone encountering a scam should report the incident to the Florida Attorney General’s Office by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at Report a Scam.
Work With a South Florida Elder Law Attorney
Engaging with a South Florida Elder Law Attorney can provide seniors and their families with personalized legal guidance. The knowledgeable lawyers at the Siegel Law Group specialize in Elder Law and are well-versed in the unique legal needs of seniors, including matters related to:
- Estate Planning
- Healthcare directives
- Probate and trust administration
- Protection against financial exploitation
At the Siegel Law Group, we help seniors and their loved ones
establish an elder law plan that suits their unique needs.
Protecting our senior loved ones from scams is a primary concern in this increasingly hostile digital world. However, keeping elderly relatives safe often extends beyond the online landscape. Certain individuals, especially sandwich generation members, may find themselves considering adult guardianship arrangements as their parent’s age.
The cognitive and physical decline may render elders uniquely vulnerable to exploitation, but adult guardianship emerges as a potential solution to address these concerns. By legally appointing a trusted family member or friend as a guardian, seniors can receive the assistance and protection they need in areas such as:
- Navigating daily tasks
- Managing finances
- Transportation and mobility
- Making medical decisions
- Handling legal documents
- Mental and physical health monitoring
- Warding off potential scammers
For more information about adult guardianship, seek legal advice from a South Florida Guardianship Attorney. At the Siegel Law Group, we can answer any questions about the legal process of establishing adult guardianship.
Call THE South Florida Elder Law Attorneys – The Siegel Law Group
At the Siegel Law Group, we understand the importance of safeguarding seniors from scams and ensuring their well-being through responsible adult guardianship. Our mission is to provide the guidance and expertise you need to confidently navigate these crucial matters. Call our office at 561-576-6206 for a complimentary consultation, or submit our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.