According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 56% of people who reported being the victim of a scam were over the age of 60. This percentage doesn’t reflect the many scams perpetrated on seniors that are never reported. While anyone can be defrauded, seniors are often directly targeted.
A wide range of scams is bilking seniors out of millions of dollars every year, money that many of them can’t afford to lose. These scams range from fraudulent prizes to “utility workers” calling to claim that an urgent repair must be completed in the senior victim’s home.
Why are seniors such frequent targets of con artists? Because many seniors are retired and spend more time at home, they’re easier to contact. They’re more likely to read the junk mail they receive and answer the telephone. Many are lonely for some contact with the outside world.
Five Ways to Safeguard Your Senior Loved One From Scams
While you can’t always be there with your loved one, there are non-confrontational ways to help protect them from becoming the victim of a scam.
1. Help them guard their personal information.
Remind your senior loved one never to give out any personal information, including their bank account numbers, credit card information, or social security number.
2. Help balance their checkbook.
By helping them with this task, you can watch for large withdrawals, multiple donations to the same charity, or payments made to companies you’re not familiar with.
3. Discourage business over the phone.
Ask your loved one to ask callers to mail them information about their offer in writing. Customize their caller ID to block unknown calls. Scammers will still use trickery, like using a local number, to get through, but any calls from a scammer that can be blocked reduces the risk of your loved one being a victim.
4. Encourage regular contact with others.
Many seniors love to answer their phones and talk with strangers out of boredom and being isolated. Help your senior hav