Implementing Safety & Security Protocols To Prevent Elder Identity Theft & Fraud In Your Family
Last week, your friend’s mom, Alice, was duped into wiring $5,000 to a complete stranger, purporting to be her granddaughter who had been arrested and desperately needed bail money. The scam artist knew Alice’s family history, her granddaughter’s name, birthday, current address and school, so Alice assumed it had to be a legitimate call. Only later, when she called her daughter and your friend Angela to explain what happened, did Angela realize Alice had been scammed. How can Angela help Alice to thwart elderly identity theft and fraud attacks in the future? How can you prevent the same occurrence from happening to your elderly parents? This blog post will discuss several tips for preventing elder fraud and theft.
Safe Internet & Phone Practices
Many elderly folks are active on the internet, but continue to use the telephone as a primary form of communication. Robocallers, telemarketers, and scam artists know this. Your senior parent might not know to screen calls or avoid answering calls they don’t recognize. This includes “blocked caller” or “potential spam” calls. Often robocallers hang up when a person answers the receiver, but the calls don’t stop there. Some telemarketers will sell a consumer’s information to other entities with dubious practices. And more often than not, scammers will try to impersonate government entities like the IRS, Social Security Administration or Department of Veteran Affairs, threatening the elderly victim with legal action or jail time if they don’t pay a “past due fine” or update credit card information on file.
Elderly and young adults often fall prey to these scams, only to realize later they were tricked. And it can be difficult to reverse these charges or track down the true identity of the scammer. If you can teach your elderly loved ones basic phone security habits, you can save time and hassle. For example, tell loved ones to let unrecognized calls go to voicemail. Explain that they should never provide personal identifiable information over the phone to a person or entity they don’t recognize, and this includes passwords, credit card information or social security numbers. If a company is legitimate, they should have no qualms with sending information in the mail or providing verification of their identity, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Security Tips to Prevent Unauthorized Access
If your elderly loved one is conducting business transactions, shopping or banking online, it is critical they understand the importance of internet safety. This includes changing passwords often, not repeating passwords, not writing passwords down and verifying that a website is secure before entering personally identifiable information (PII) or credit card information. On all browser toolbars, there should be a lock icon in the upper lefthand corner indicating the website’s information. Installing antivirus software and teaching your loved one not to open pop up ads, download software that is unsafe or visit unsavory websites can also prevent the transmission of a computer virus.
Also explain that emails or messages from sources or people you don’t recognize should not be opened, because these messages could contain a phishing scam. If your loved one suspects they have received spam, they should report it to their email manager (Gmail, Outlook) etc. You also should not download files from unrecognized sources. Finally, your elderly loved one may benefit from a password manager which contains all passwords for frequently visited websites, and two factor authentication, which will verify their identity using a code sent to another email account or cellular phone, keeping an account secure. Your power of attorney can specifically give your attorney in fact the ability to assist in the event of identity theft or fraud.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
If you suspect that your loved one may be a victim of fraud or identity theft, it is imperative that you act quickly. Social Security fraud and ransomware attacks are on the rise. Hackers and fraudsters continue to get more sophisticated, and they rely on the vulnerability of innocent victims to exploit. Our Tampa elder care attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group, P.C. can help you and your family identify tools and strategies to stay safe in our advancing technological world, and we can also help in the event of an identity theft crisis or potential fraud.