Do you have grandparents or older parents you care about? Or, are you a senior citizen yourself? Then, this post is for you! Every day in the good old USA, older people are fleeced by scammers eager to take advantage of granny’s trusting nature and bank accounts. Don’t let this happen to you or any of your loved ones. Using the common sense tips below can keep your finances intact from these ruthless thieves.
1. Junk Mail
If your mailbox overflows with junk mail, you may be on scammers’ “sucker list.” If you respond to any of these solicitations, thieves will sell your contact information and junk mail offers will begin to multiply beyond control.
2. Phone Sales Calls or Email Offers
Other common methods to scam seniors are phone sales calls and email offers. Thieves know seniors typically answer their phones and may be reluctant to hang up on anyone. They use this to their advantage by offering their most persuasive scams to collect sensitive financial information like bank account numbers. Their email scams are equally enticing.
Once armed with your personal and financial information, thieves will take money from your bank accounts, charge up your credit cards, or completely steal your identity which can lead to financial ruin.
3. What To Do
Educate yourself or your older loved ones about these dangers. Give them articles to read or resources they can explore such as websites for the Federal Trade Commission and AARP. By simply typing “scams” in their search boxes, you can find the latest information about how scammers target the elderly.
You should also register on the National Do Not Call Registry by calling 888-382-1222 or visiting www.donotcall.gov to stop those pesky telemarketing calls. Although many may be legitimate offers, the bottom line is they still want your precious money.
Finally, never, and I mean NEVER, provide sensitive personal or financial information to anyone who contacts you by phone or email.
No reputable entity, whether a bank, government agency, or organization you work with will request this kind of information from you by phone, mail, or email. If you receive such requests, do not reply to the sender. Instead, contact the organization the sender says they represent to see if this information was really requested.
4. The “Grandparent” Scam
Let’s say you’re a grandparent and one day your phone rings with a desperate call from your “favorite grandchild.” Likely, the caller will not actually provide a name and may say they are calling from a friend’s cell phone. If you take the bait, the caller will go on to explain they need money wired immediately for something (car repairs or pay a speeding ticket while travelling, etc). Don’t bite no matter how appealing the plea!
Instead, challenge the caller or ask for the caller’s number. That alone may end the call. Otherwise, check with family members to confirm that Johnny really is on the road travelling (or whatever story he gave you), or if he has contacted anyone else about his problem.
5. Stealing Social Security Checks
Once thieves have your sensitive personal or financial information, they may steal your Social Security checks by contacting the Social Security Administration (SSA) to change your payment information so checks are routed to their own bank accounts. You have the option to contact the SSA yourself to block all account changes not made by you in person. This proactive step will stop thieves before they have a chance to steal your hard-earned money.
Here at LSS, we care about everyone’s finances and understand the importance of keeping personal information safe and confidential. But you must do your part too. Learning about the financial dangers that lurk around every corner and implementing ways to protect yourself are important steps only you can take. Don’t gamble with your (or granny’s) financial security. Have questions? Give us a call at 888.577.2227 or visit our website at ConquerYourDebt.org.
Author Barbara Miller is a Financial Counselor at LSS Financial Counseling. She specializes in Bankruptcy Counseling and Education and is an excellent contributer to The Sense and Centsibility Blog. Check out a few of Barb’s most popular posts: