Protect Vulnerable Family Members from Scams
Scams are everywhere nowadays and with our increasing use of technology, it’s only going to become more common. According to AARP, almost half of mobile calls in 2019 will be scam or robo calls. Some are blatantly obvious scams, but many of these communications are becoming better at hiding their intentions. Some calls are disguising their caller IDs with similar area codes as their targets or even impersonate a well-known company’s phone number. It’s probably easier for younger people to detect what’s fake and genuine, but for our older loved ones, it’s not so simple. We’ve created a few tips on how to protect your vulnerable family members from being a victim to scams.
Never Give Payment Over the Phone
Never give credit card or any personal information over the phone to someone who called you. While some instances may be legitimate, it’s best to avoid this because there’s not an exact science to tell who’s scamming and who are just doing their job. Instead, tell your loved one to let the caller know that they’ll have someone call them back. Remember, companies typically don’t call demanding payment on the spot—even electrical companies and the IRS. Remind your loved ones that it’s better to wait and let you analyze the situation.
Obtain Power of Attorney
By obtaining power of attorney, your family member can give you control of their finances, so even if scammers reach out, they won’t be able to do much. Make sure to approach this topic with caution because it is a sensitive subject. An alternative could be having your loved one put you or another trusted family member as their point of contact so any calls from payable companies would go to this person. This would not only give everyone peace of mind but also give your loved one a better understanding of what’s a scam because they shouldn’t be receiving phone calls from any companies requesting bill payment.
Don’t Answer Calls or Emails You Don’t Know
Scam communication can come from anywhere—from your own state to across the world. The most proven way to avoid being scammed is to ignore calls and emails from unfamiliar people or phone numbers. If it’s important they will leave a message. Try searching the email address, phone number, or company name to see if they’re legit.
The most popular scams targeting seniors are Social Security Administration calling to threaten legal action if they don’t call a certain number or proceed with the phone call. SSA never threatens legal action and hardly ever calls anyone unless there’s an ongoing matter. Another common scam is someone calling pretending to be a grandchild who needs money because of an emergency. Instead of complying with their demands right away, hang up the phone and call the grandchild back on the known phone number and confirm if it’s true or not. When dealing with money or personal information it is always best to be wary and take it slow.
Get to Know Their Financial Advisor
We hope that our vulnerable loved ones are treated with the respect and integrity we all deserve, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. By meeting with their financial advisor, you can verify that they’re not scamming and assert your presence in their relationship. If your loved one permits it, you can also become a point of contact and review their accounts to ensure that everything is being handled professionally.
Don’t Lose Hope
Scams are becoming more and more believable nowadays. They come in calls, emails, physical mail, through social media, and many other ways. The only proven way to avoid being scammed is by never giving money or personal information over the phone or sending when asked. It can be scary knowing that scam is only increasing, but by keeping your vulnerable loved ones informed, they can eventually begin to spot it themselves.