Fraud Talk: Scams Against the Elderly

January 09, 2024 by Tasha Fedorova

In this world, where concerns Happy old couple smiling in a park on a sunny dayover racism, sexism, ageism, etc. are prominent, it is not considered politically correct to discuss the vulnerability of the elderly. However, instead of feeling ashamed of our vulnerabilities, we should focus on protecting them by understanding what they are. Older people are often targeted by scams for several reasons. Firstly, many older adults have access to large retirement accounts. While retirees are often seen as having a fixed income, this perception exists because they need to make their savings last throughout their lifetime. Additionally, many retirees have significant equity in their homes, which can be exploited. If you have spent your life saving for a comfortable retirement and have a plan to make those savings last, it's important to stick to that plan. Avoid dipping into your nest egg and especially refrain from taking out a home equity loan to help someone else, as this can lead to trouble and they may not return the favor.

Traditionally, older men were responsible for managing household finances, but men also tend to have shorter lifespans. This situation can leave many older women in a vulnerable position when it comes to navigating personal finance for the first time. In such cases, it is crucial to involve a trusted relative to help you during this transition. Including them as an authorized signer on your accounts can give them access to assist you if you encounter any difficulties. If you don't have a trusted relative, consider making a friend at the bank who can guide you through the process and educate you about the warning signs of scams.

There are specific scams that specifically target the elderly, such as grandparent scams and remote access scams. Grandparent scams typically involve a phone call informing you that a grandchild or family member is in danger and urgently needs your help. These scammers often instruct you not to contact anyone else but them. During such a situation, it is important to take a step back and assess the situation. Did the caller provide a specific name? If so, reach out to that individual or their parents directly to confirm the situation. It's crucial to remember that there is no emergency that can't wait a few moments for you to make a phone call. Additionally, consider whether the child in question would realistically contact you in an emergency before seeking help from their parents or friends.

In remote access scams or tech support scams, scammers may contact you via phone, text, or pop-up messages claiming that your computer or financial accounts have been compromised. They may pose as representatives from well-known tech companies or financial institutions. These scams can take various forms, such as requesting you to download software that grants them access to your computer or urging you to transfer money to another account for safety. If you want more information on remote access scams, I recommend reading this article provided by the FBI, which delves deeper into this scam and offers advice on how to protect yourself and what to do if you become a victim: FBI Warns Public to Beware of Tech Support Scammers

If you come across one of these pop-up messages, it is important not to call the number provided. Legitimate tech companies, such as Microsoft, Apple, and your bank, never send unsolicited messages and do not include phone numbers in their warnings. Instead, exit the site and check your computer for any installed malware. If exiting the site does not work, open Task Manager, select your internet browser, and click "End Task." This article from MalwareTips provides further guidance on how to check for and uninstall malware, but if you are not comfortable with this process, I recommend taking your computer to a professional tech company to have the malware removed and anti-malware installed. 

In summary, it's essential to be aware of and understand the vulnerabilities older people face when it comes to scams. By educating ourselves about these vulnerabilities and taking preventive measures, such as involving trusted relatives or friends, we can better protect ourselves and our financial security.

Categories: Financial Education

Leave us a comment and join the conversation.