A senior woman uses her laptop and avoids scams.

How to Avoid Telephone and Online Scams for Seniors

Believe it or not, financial elder abuse is the most common form of senior abuse, and it’s also the fastest-growing. While some of the financial abuse is happening by family members, senior scams are becoming a growing concern for older adults.

In recent years, legislators, law enforcement, and nonprofit organizations have joined the fight to end online fraud scams and telephone scams. Unfortunately, the fight continues, and seniors must take steps to protect themselves against fraud.

5 Handy Tips to Avoid Senior Scams

Since there is still a long way to go in fighting telephone and online fraud at the government level, it’s important to still be the first line of defense when it comes to your finances, or the finances of an aging loved one. Below are five ways senior consumers can protect themselves from scams.

1. Block Solicitations

While it can sometimes feel like a never-ending battle, do everything you can to block solicitations by opting out of commercial mail and arranging for a ban of five years with the Direct Marketing Association’s mail preference system. Work to eliminate robocalls by using a call-blocking service or a call-screening tool, and only pick up the phone for names and numbers you recognize.

2. Avoid Isolation

In cooler months, you might find that you hibernate a little more than you do in spring and summer. By isolating yourself, you’re more likely to fall victim to socialization scams. People can pretend to be a friend or relative to encourage you to give them money. Always be cautious when people are reaching out at odd times or through methods you don’t normally communicate through.

3. Never Give Out Personal Information

Logically you know it’s important to keep your personal information private and secure, but scammers are experts at coaxing you to divulge. Most often, scammers will send a piece of mail with an incentive asking for your private information in return. If you’re concerned or suspect foul play, never give out any personally identifying information over the phone or internet.

4. Choose a Caregiver You Trust

When the time comes to get some assistance with your finances, it’s best to choose an immediate family member you can trust to manage your assets. At-home caregiver fraud is more common than you may realize, so it’s important to always choose a reliable, trusted individual for your caregiving needs.

5. Buy from Places You Know

On the internet, it’s easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of online shopping. While most websites are reputable for shopping, there are some look-alikes that are out there to scam you out of your credit card information. Choose businesses that are reputable and that you know by name. Always check websites for trust indicators and Better Business Bureau affiliations.

It can sometimes seem overwhelming to protect yourself from all the online fraud scams and telephone scams. However, if you’re smart about sharing your personal information, especially financial information, you can protect yourself and your assets from financial elder abuse.

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