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Published On: Fri, Oct 20th, 2017

How to protect the elderly from scam calls

Fraudsters and scam artists often make elderly people their prime targets because of their high vulnerability. Why are they vulnerable? Why do they have a higher susceptibility to being a victim of a scam? It is because they go overboard when it comes to trusting people, they are gullible, they live alone and they most times do not have someone watching over their finances.

photo/ Pete Linforth via pixabay

As a result of being alone, they are at most times feeling lonely. Because of these, elderly people become overly grateful to someone who talks to them frequently. Fraudsters may seize this opportunity to build a trusting relationship with them, without them having any idea that the nice man they are talking to on the phone may have sinister motives. It is not because the elderlies are silly and senile but rather as a result of fraudster expertise overtime of doing the same tricks on different targets.

Quite a lot of us have elderly ones around us, either a parent, friends or neighbors. It will be of benefit for them if we remind them now and then, that they are the prime target of fraudsters. This will help them to secure their money, their sense of security and ultimately, their dignity.  There are a few things that we can also do to ensure this and some are discussed below:

BE INVOLVED IN THEIR FINANCIAL DECISION MAKING.

Like earlier discussed, they are susceptible to fraud because they mostly do not have people watching over their finances. It will be beneficial to them if you become involved in their financial decision making, especially if you notice that managing personal finances  is becoming more of a burden to them. If you are aware of their financial transactions before they are taken, it is possible for you to prevent them from being scammed.

DISCOURAGE THEM FROM RELEASING BANKING AND SOCIAL INFORMATION.

You should ensure that the elders do not give out their credit card numbers, social security numbers or even their personal banking details to a caller. You should give them a stern warning about this, making them know the implications of doing it.

INFORM THEM ON THE MANNER BY WHICH SUCH CALLS CAN COME.

Most of the scam calls come in the form of an old friends’ funeral, charitable donations, lottery win, new health breakthrough products, or the confirmation of a sweepstake. Ensure that the elderly are aware of this.

REGISTER THEIR NUMBER UP FOR THE NATIONAL DO NOT CALL REGISTRY

Another smart move to save the elderly from scam calls is to put up their phone numbers on the National do not call registry. This will limit the number of phone calls they receive from telemarketers. As such, it is easy to tell them to ignore calls from telemarketers since it is not likely that they receive a call from one. You can get further information from websites like, http://check-caller.net/, www.donotcall.gov etc.

VISIT THEM REGULARLY

When you make this visit, it is to serve two purposes; decrease their loneliness, thus decreasing their tendency to trust in a voice on the phone for companionship, and to inquire about any ulterior motive relationship. When you visit, make inquiries about the phone calls they have been making so that you can discover if they have been forming any relationship with a caller. Fraudsters tend to develop a relationship with lonely people and preying on their need for a conversation to dupe them.

WARN THEM AGAINST “ON SPOT” DECISIONS

If a caller is seeking for them to submit information or take an offer immediately or risk missing such opportunity, it is most likely to be a scam call. In such situations, it is advisable that they ask to verify such information. In most cases, legitimate companies will not pressure people into acting without giving them the chance to examine the deal critically. They can also request a call back number, as in most cases, most fraudsters will not give a number that can be called back.

TEACH THEM TO VERIFY PIECES OF INFORMATION AND DEMAND EVIDENCE

If a number called claiming to be a government agent, they should ask for a certified letter on a letterhead paper. If it is a salesperson, he should be required to provide such information such as his company’s name, telephone, and address. Unwillingness to do this shows likelihood for it to be a scam call. Alternatively, there are websites where they can connect to, to confirm the authenticity of such phone calls by verifying the phone number. Teach them to connect to and use these websites.

Frauds that target the elderly are common, so  these tips will most likely help you to protect your elderlies against these frauds.

Author: Pankaj Deb

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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