By Nikki Junker, Identity Theft Resource Center
Unfortunately we live in a world where criminals seek out the most vulnerable groups of people to become their targets. These groups often make it very easy for them to play out their schemes and get away with it. One of the groups that we at the Identity Theft Resource Center have found to be increasingly targeted is the elderly. Time and time again, we receive calls from an older individual who has been victimized or an acquaintance of the victim.
Often times the scam involves what most people see as a dated technology…a home phone. It is usually difficult for anyone to admit that they have been the victim of a scam. They feel ashamed that they “fell for it”. Sometimes the victim refuses to believe that they have indeed become the victim of a scam. In these instances, we will receive a call from the child or spouse of the victim. Our advisors will ask questions to determine whether or not they believe the situation is a scam. From there, we help the individual understand how to communicate with the victim to get him or her moving towards protecting themselves.
That said, it is important to communicate proactively with those in your life who are targets for financial exploitation. That way they will be able to react appropriately and hopefully prevent themselves from becoming a victim to the predator on the other end of the line. Here are a few of the things you should warn your loved ones about:
- Anyone asking for personal information: Scammers may pose as banks or government agencies and ask the victim for their personal information to verify their identity. Any company calling the individual should be able to provide this information without asking for it first.
- Fake Charities: Older individuals are often very generous when it comes to charity, and scammers know just how to exploit this quality. Make sure to check out the validity of charities by going to Guidestar.org or by calling the organization back at a listed number.
- Wire Transfers: There are several scams which target elderly victims and attempt to have them wire money. Often the scammer will pose as a grandchild in trouble and ask the grandparent to wire money to help them. Most grandparents cannot say no to such a request. Be sure that the elderly people in your life know that they should not send money to anyone via wire transfer without verifying that the individual is indeed in dire straits.
There are so many variations of scams that specifically target the elderly that we could go on for pages and pages, but the above information should give a good foundation for a conversation with the older people in your lives. Maybe you can share some wisdom with them for a change.