Not a day goes by that the sun does not linger a bit longer, that the landscape gets a bit greener, that the weather gets bit warmer and that the scammers get a bit craftier. We all are accustomed to preparing for a change in the seasons, but we also need to be able to help our older loved ones defend themselves against an evolving art of scamming. I want to share five of them that have taken scamming to new depths. It’s always the same bottom line: they are looking to steal people’s money or people’s identities with which to make monetary gains. But they continue to improve their game, so help your older loved ones prepare.
- It starts with ZOOM – For the past year or more we have had to substitute real gatherings with digital gatherings. We are all accustomed to receiving the “link” and clicking into a meeting with a friend, a club, a congregation and more. Scammers, however, send authentic-looking links that take your loved one to a platform where the scammer may download malicious software that hacks passwords or gains access financial information. RESPONSE: Impress upon your older loved ones to not click on links in unsolicited emails.
- Generous Actor giving away money – There have been noteworthy screen actors or athletes who have stepped up to help communities that have been devastated by the pandemic quarantine. Your mom or dad get a text or email invitation from a famous someone, and all they have to do is send their account information and small deposit to cover the “cost of the transaction.” RESPONSE: If it is too good to be true, assure your loved one that it IS too good to be true.
- New Medicare benefits – With expanded health benefits lately and pandemic-related benefits, there can be a lot of information being broadcast. The offers sound great. RESPONSE: Medicare will never solicit your older loved one; hang up, log off, just close that screen.
- On-line romance is not love– There is an ever-increasing array of options that allow people to meet on-line. And with the incredibly long quarantine who is not in need of some social interaction. It may even be a book club or a prayer group. RESPONSE: The red flags will be provocative videos or language or any number of suggestions that ultimately lead to a request for money or confidential information; this is another hang up, log off.
- Account Issues – A text or email with your loved one’s credit card logo and an alert that payment is past due or a text with similar wording. Maybe it is an alert, but… RESPONSE: Encourage your older loved one to ALWAYS call the toll-free number on the back of the credit card or visit the actual web site; never click on a link or provide account details to a caller.
So, you and your loved ones have just these five scams to guard against? Not exactly. These are in the top tier, but scammers are a creative lot, so follow all these general rules of response so as not to be taken in by the next wave.
Charlotte Bishop is a Caregiver Coach, an Aging Life Care Advisor, a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.