The only thing worse than getting scammed is finding out that a parent or loved one has been taken advantage of by an online predator. Feelings of anger, helplessness, grief, rage, and revenge all seem to surface around the same time. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to completely protect ourselves and our families from becoming the target of all online extortion. There are several tips to help prevent fraud that are effective for those nearing retirement as well as for seniors living independently, which we’ll cover throughout this post.
Tips to Help Prevent Fraud
Awareness is the first step towards online safety. It is important to speak frequently and openly about current scamming tactics and how to spot them. The following scams are common, and important to familiarize yourself with so that you can properly prepare yourself against these types of attacks.
1. IRS Fraud
IRS scammers seem to have taken over the phone lines, and their only objective is to get your money. Sometimes the call involves an automated message saying that you are delinquent in back taxes and your personal property is in jeopardy. Other times there is a more credible, live person who orchestrates the dirty work. This instills a sense of urgency to clear up the matter as soon as possible. Many taxpayers will get tricked into responding out of fear of getting on the wrong side of the IRS.
According to the IRS, there are give things that scammers oftentimes do that the actual IRS will not. They include calling to demand immediate payment, requiring you to use a specific payment method or asking for a credit or debit card over the phone. If you feel that the person on the other line is acting forcefully, don’t hesitate to push back. And no matter what, make sure that you don’t provide any payment over the phone. You’re better off calling the IRS directly, and asking what or whether the potential issue may be so that you can proactively safeguard your financial future.
2. Business Email Compromise
This unconscionable deception centers on attaining employees’ private records. Typically, this type of scam involves receiving a fake email from a supposed company official– like a CEO– who is requesting confidential information. For-profit and nonprofit businesses, including a number of hospitals, have become targets of this particular scam. A somewhat similar ploy involves a similar email sent from the “CEO” requesting an immediate wire transfer of funds from the company to a trusted vendor. The correspondence can appear exceedingly trustworthy, so some individuals may feel compelled to follow through with an action, leaving them and their company at risk.
If you or a colleague receive this type of an email, make sure to check with your supervisor before responding. Your IT department should have different layers of authentication installed on your company’s email platform, which will help to protect you and your colleagues against this type of compromise. If you’re unfamiliar with the details of your company’s security policy, don’t hesitate to ask for a crash course regarding their tips to help prevent fraud.
3. Grandparents Scam
This is a devious scheme that came to the surface a while back and is still going strong. The way this particular ruse works is through a phone call with an alleged attorney. The scammer will call the victim and tell them a teen or young adult grandchild is in trouble in another state (or country) because of a dreadful reason (e.g., accident, mugging, DUI). The “attorney” commonly goes on to claim a cash transfer must be made through a service like Western Union or MoneyGram to get the youngster out of the jam.
Afterwards (or perhaps beforehand), a panic-stricken young person posing as the grandchild is put on the phone to validate the ruse. The hysterical con artist typically begs the grandparent not to tell his or her parents, as he/she feels ashamed or does not want to get in trouble. Unsurprisingly, grandparents love their grandchildren, so rescue mode inevitably kicks in. The reprehensible hoax is incredibly manipulative and plays on a grandparent’s emotions. Unfortunately this type of scam has been incredibly successful over the past several years.
Regrettably, numerous other cons, like charity and funeral scams, also target unsuspecting individuals. Because of this, it definitely makes sense to keep family communication lines as open as possible. To keep abreast of the latest scams and tips to help prevent fraud, sign up for AARP’s Fraud Watch or familiarize yourself with the FTC scam alerts website.
When considering how to find a retirement community, it’s important to consider whether or not a facility offers continuous learning courses that cover topics like internet security and fraud prevention. At Briarwood the overall well being of our residents is our number one priority. That includes fostering an open environment to learn about a variety of topics including the practical use of technology. If you’re interested in the educational opportunities that Briarwood has to offer then we invite you to join our family for a complimentary dinner.