Protecting the Elderly from Financial Abuse
Help Seniors Avoid Scammers and Viruses. As more and more seniors begin using the internet for online banking, there is a growing risk of falling victim to malware and other forms of fraud.
Tips for Preventing the Financial Abuse of Your Loved Ones
- Stay in regular contact with your loved ones. Anyone who feels isolated or lonely is susceptible to being victimized.
- Review their financial statements each month.
- Remind them to never provide personal information (Social Security, credit card or personal identification numbers) over the phone, unless they placed the call and know whom they’re talking to.
- Make sure they shred credit card receipts, bank statements and financial records.
- Encourage them to take advantage of Account Alerts and sign up for paperless statements.
- Make sure you ignore anything that comes by unsolicited email or as a pop-up such as contests, invitations to join a club, insurance, vacations, or other offers.
- Pay attention to installing new software; free apps downloaded from pop-ups are almost always riddled with malware that can steal your personal information and compromise a system.
- Use only certified app stores when shopping for apps.
- If you use a mobile device for banking, ensure the device is password-protected and secure.
- Seniors are a prime target for scammers; awareness of potential and actual scams will help identify suspicious activity rather than becoming a victim.
- Do not respond to scammers; for instance, if you receive email spam about your bank account information and you do not actually have an account with that company, you should not respond saying that you do not have such an account, as this validates that their email and identify they are real.
- If you shop or do banking online, make sure you keep an eye on the address bar and that the address looks correct. It should start with https:// which means that it uses encryption to protect your data. The address should also reflect the site you expect to visit.
- Following a link can take you to a site that mimics a legitimate one, but is designed to steal personal information, accept payments that will go to scammers, or implant malware into their system.
- If you are having trouble with your computer, seek professional assistance. You should not engage with people over the internet to repair your computer unless you know the individual. Be aware that imposters will impersonate notable brands and companies.
If you get stuck with something you don't understand or aren't sure about have a trusted friend or relative that you can ask about potential fraud.
Be sure to keep your anti-virus and security updates current. If you are new to computing, find someone who can help.
Become familiar with the privacy settings on social media. Set privacy settings to exclude or signal when people you don't know try to contact you.
Strong passwords are important to staying safe online. Use good, strong passwords that will be difficult to guess. Make them stronger by including numbers, and special characters such as &, %, #, and so on. Make sure you never, ever reveal your passwords to anyone. Also, you should periodically change your PIN, and remember: No one from Gulf Winds will ever need to ask you for your PIN and password when servicing your account.
Make sure you never provide personal or financial information online unless you are absolutely sure you are dealing with someone trustworthy. Beware of requests to update personal information; these are very often used by scammers to collect information used to break into accounts or purchase items in other peoples' names.
Signs of Identity Theft
Some signs that you may have been the victim of identity theft include failing to receive credit card bills in the mail, receiving billing statements for accounts that don't belong to you, and getting calls about merchandise or services you didn't buy.
Identity Theft - First Steps
If you think you may be a victim of Identity Theft, you can obtain a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. If it's accurate and includes only activities you've authorized, chances are your identity wasn't stolen.
Be on the lookout for common frauds and schemes that specifically target elders, such as:
- An imposter claiming that a grandchild is endangered or injured, asking for money to help.
- A fake Sweepstakes/Lottery/Car Winner call, in which the senior is told to provide their personal info so their prize can be delivered.
- A fake IRS call requesting either a callback and/or cash.
- A fictitious computer hardware employee stating that a virus has infected the senior's PC.
For an overview of common scams and warning signs to be on the lookout for, please visit our common scams page »