With the digital era taking root and sensitive information flowing freely through cyberspace, senior financial scams are becoming increasingly prevalent. Falling victim to financial abuse in the elderly can significantly impact seniors’ financial stability and overall well-being. With that in mind, it is essential to raise awareness to reduce the likelihood of falling prey to these fraudsters.
Common Types of Financial Scams Targeting Seniors
Before we get into how seniors can protect themselves from these frauds, it is essential to learn the common types of financial scams that target them:
- Phishing emails – fraudsters can use phishing emails to deceive seniors into revealing sensitive information, such as bank details, or install ransomware (giving them access to senior’s computer).
- Telemarketing fraud refers to any form of scheme, such as courier fraud or bank account fraud, where attackers use a telephone to communicate and target seniors for financial abuse in the elderly.
- Identity theft – Seniors can also fall victim to identity theft, which means the attackers will obtain their personal data through various methods, including phishing, data breaches and thefts.
- Lottery scams – these work by convincing seniors into believing they have won a large sum of money in an international lottery, then tricking them into sending personal information or money.
- Fake charity appeals – fake charity scams seek to convince seniors to donate to fake charity organisations, where the money ends up in the creators’ pockets.
- Health frauds – these scams refer to products that claim to prevent, treat or cure seniors’ medical conditions.
Although anyone can fall victim to these scams, scammers often target seniors due to their age-related vulnerabilities. These include:
- Cognitive decline – As our seniors age, cognitive functions, such as memory, decision-making and reasoning, can significantly decline, which makes them vulnerable and a prime target for scammers.
- Loneliness – Loneliness creates the desire for social interaction, which may increase the likelihood of seniors being more receptive to engaging with scammers.
- Trust in others – Unlike the younger generation, seniors hail from an era where authority figures could be trusted. As such, they are more likely to fall prey to scammers posing as police or bank representatives.
- Lack of tech-savvy – Most seniors aren’t familiar with modern technology and online security practices, which leaves them more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and scams.
Warning Signs of Senior Scams
Scammers do not typically jump directly into scamming seniors; they take time to earn their trust before making their move, especially for courier fraud or bank account fraud. For that reason, understanding some of the warning signs of financial abuse in the elderly can help reduce the risk of fraudsters having their way. Here are some common signs:
- Unusual financial transactions – Unusual financial transactions can be in the form of multiple small or large unexplained withdrawals, multiple payments or unfamiliar vendors. Monitoring their financial accounts can help ensure they stop scammers before they take more money.
- Frequent unsolicited calls – Seniors should be wary of frequent unsolicited phone calls, especially if the person on the other end claims to be a government agency or large corporation.
- Changes in behaviour – Financial abuse in the elderly can show in the form of a behaviour change. You may notice things such as increased isolation, anxiety, fear and unusual financial decisions.
- Pressure to act quickly – Although scammers often take their time to earn trust, they can also create a sense of urgency to pressure seniors into making rushed and uninformed decisions.
Falling victim to financial abuse in the elderly can affect seniors in various ways. Most of them do not know what to do if you are a victim of fraud, which can further affect their emotional health and overall well-being. Here are a few impacts of scams on seniors:
- Loss of savings – Scammers often target the elderly as they are more likely to have substantial sums of money from lifetime savings – and if they are successful, they can get away with the entire amount.
- Stress – Losing money to a scam can lead to emotional and psychological stress for seniors due to the sense of betrayal by someone they trusted.
- Feeling shame – Falling victim to a scam can leave seniors feeling embarrassed and humiliated. In most cases, the shame can stop them from seeking help even if they have no idea what to do if you are a victim of fraud.
- Loss of independence – Losing a significant portion of their saving to a scam can compromise the independence of seniors, forcing them to rely on other people for basics such as housing, medical care and food.
How Seniors Can Protect Themselves From Scams
Knowing what to do if youve been scammed online is key to preventing similar scams. Unfortunately, in most cases, there isn’t much you can do to recover your lost money. For that reason, learning to protect yourself from fraudsters as a senior is the most effective way to avoid losing money to scams.
- Be sceptical – It is wise to maintain a certain level of scepticism, especially when dealing with unsolicited calls and suspicious offers that sound too good to be true.
- Verify information – Always verify the legitimacy of any financial request, whether it’s from an organisation or individuals before you share personal information.
- Secure personal information – Keeping personal information, such as bank details and passwords confidential, helps prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.
- Ignore unsolicited information – Unless you can verify the legitimacy, it is wise to ignore unsolicited emails, phones and mails.
- Consult trusted individuals – Always consult a family member before you make any major financial decision or aren’t sure what to do if youve been scammed online.
- Use strong passwords – Creating strong and unique passwords can make it harder for scammers to use them to steal from you. Consider using a combination of lower-case, uppercase, special characters and numbers in your passwords.
Protecting seniors from scams is paramount to maintaining their financial security, independence and emotional well-being. As mentioned, these individuals are often targeted due to their decline in cognitive functions and loneliness. So, having a trusted live-in caregiver around them can help significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to these scammers. Visit Veritas Care today to get started on protecting your elderly loved one from scams.