The world in 2021 is a much different place than it was “back in the day”. While technology advancements have greatly helped our day-to-day lives, they have also brought some scam artists to the forefront and they are taking advantage of vulnerable populations. In our society, kids and seniors are the most vulnerable populations for scammers to target. This article will focus on how to keep seniors safe from telephone and online scams that have cost seniors hundreds of thousands of dollars last year alone in the United States.
Avoiding Senior Scams and Senior Citizen Identity Theft
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released a warning that scammers are utilizing a new scam, sending bogus COVID-19 vaccine surveys via texts and emails. This is a simple ploy to steal a senior’s money and/or identity. People who receive the message are asked to complete a limited-time survey about the different vaccines and once completed, will receive a gift but are asked to pay shipping fees. This is a scam! Legitimate surveys do NOT ask for credit/debit cards or banking information. Given this information, there are four basic rules to follow:
- If you receive an email or text you are unsure about, never click on any links and/or attachments.
- Never call the phone number provided in the communication. If you want to contact the company, find their correct phone number online and call them directly.
- Never give out personal information, credit/debit card, and banking information to any company/person that calls unexpectedly.
- If you believe you have received a scam email/text, you can report it to the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov.
The most common form of senior scams is identity theft. What is it and how do seniors get their identities stolen so easily? Identity Theft is when someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person’s identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person’s name. Identity theft occurs when someone uses another’s personally identifying information, like their name, social security number, or credit card number, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. What do identity thieves want from seniors? For starters, their full legal name, Social Security Number (Medicare ID Number), date of birth, address, and credit card numbers. In addition to this, they also try to seek Bank Account Numbers, Driver’s License numbers, passwords, family relationship information, professional license information, military history and current benefits, tax refund information, and anything related to their good name and reputation. We can categorize identity theft into five basic types: Financial, Criminal, Medical, Social Security, and Synthetic. Synthetic identity theft is when thieves create an entirely new identity using your Social Security number. They combine different biographical information and a different name in conjunction with your Social Security number. This can be very difficult to detect since only “bits and pieces” of your identity have been stolen. Here are some warning signs: Mail sent to your home addressed to someone else, Inflated annual earnings, and unexpected denial of credit/loan applications.
While this information is intimidating to many seniors, they are not alone in this battle. At Amada Senior Care(www.AmadaNashville.com), our management team is thoroughly trained to assist our clients and families if they think something is not right. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call Amada Senior Care directly at 615-933-7494 and ask to speak with a Certified Senior Advisor. Stay safe out there and be well.
Kevin B. Fehr, CSA, CDP, President & CEO, Certified Dementia Practitioner, Amada Senior Care Nashville, Amada Senior Care Bucks/Mont. Co. – www.amadanashville.com