In today’s society, financial scams and fraudulent transactions are becoming increasingly more common. Scammers are evolving methods, becoming more aware online, disguising themselves as legitimate businesses, and targeting seniors that are unaware of the dangers of phishing. Many seniors aren’t aware of these popular internet scams that take advantage of thousands of people.
Helping a loved one understand phishing and how to recognize potential dangers can be pivotal in avoiding a scamming catastrophe. Many scams are designed to take as much money from your loved one as possible in a very short amount of time. Educating yourself and the senior in your life are vital in helping to prevent frauds and scams that directly target seniors.
Woodland Ridge would like to share some helpful information regarding phishing so that you and your loved one can be prepared to avoid popular senior scams.
What is Phishing?
Merriam-Webster defines phishing as “a scam by which an internet user is duped (as by a deceptive e-mail message) into revealing personal or confidential information which the scammer can use illicitly.” In simple terms, phishing is a method that scammers use to falsely represent themselves and convince a senior to release social security numbers, bank information, or other private information they can use to easily steal money or the identity of a loved one.
Although the term “phishing” is more of a recent term, your loved one has most likely seen similar scams in the past. Helping them understand that phishing can happen in a face-to-face conversation, a phone call, an email, or any other form of communication with a stranger is important to avoiding the scams completely. No matter how you communicate with another person, there is always an opportunity for them to attempt a phishing scam.
Popular Senior Scams
There are a variety of phishing scams that specifically target seniors, so keeping up with which ones are most popular can prove to be useful in being aware when someone is attempting the scam. It’s impossible to know every scam currently out there in the world, but informing your loved one of prevalent scams can help them identify potential concerns. Many phishing scams are similar but use different methods of contact or persuasion to convince your loved one to release their personal information.
Some of the most popular phishing scams are:
- The Social Security Scam
In this scam, a loved one will be informed that they must release their social security number to prove their identity or activate an old number. Typically, the individual will record the automated phone call that the Social Security Administration uses to confuse or mask their appearance to a loved one. Remind friends and family to never provide their social security number over the phone to strangers!
- The Grandparent Scam
The Grandparent Scam is clever because it involves acting like the grandchild of senior in an attempt to convince them that a grandchild is in danger. Frequently, the caller will say that there has been a car accident, medical emergency, or other situation that requires money. The caller will then ask a loved one for money in the hopes that they are unaware of the fraud!
- Natural Disaster Scams
After a natural disaster, it’s common for scammers to pretend that they are an organization that provides disaster relief to those in need. The Natural Disaster Scam is extremely appealing to seniors because it offers a false hope that they are to receive financial aid in a dire situation. In times of a disaster, it’s best to contact government agencies and reputable organizations rather than waiting for scammers to call!
Educate Your Loved One
Educating a loved one about the dangers of phishing scams can help to show them the intricacies of fraud and make them more recognizable. Once a loved one is able to identify a phishing scam, they can prevent leaking personal information to strangers that will take advantage of them. If the senior in your life cannot easily identify scammers, then it is important that they understand steps to take when a family member is not available to assist. Perhaps develop a plan that includes making sure a loved one doesn’t reveal any information over the phone without a family member present. Requesting callbacks or asking the individual to identify themselves and provide a number to have a family member address at a later time is the best plan of action.
Be vigilant and inform the senior in your life about popular scams as they arise. Scams are modified and disguised to mislead your loved one into providing their personal information. If they know which scams are popular, they’ll be able to recognize when the person they’re speaking to is not being genuine.
Helping your loved one avoid financial scams is difficult because you can’t be there all the time. Make sure to educate your loved one about the dangers of scams and assist them in correcting any wrongs that have been done by fraudulent transactions.
Although scammers are extremely intelligent especially with trying to deceive seniors, it’s important to stay confident and know that if it seems fishy it’s probably phishing! Make sure to update your loved one if they are receiving a financial related call to allow for less confusion and encourage them to call you first before giving information out.
At Woodland Ridge, we’re here as a resource to help a loved one avoid being taken advantage of at all costs! Visit our website for other resources such as blogs on online safety and financial planning for seniors!