How to Protect Parents From Spammers, Scammers And Other ScoundrelsIn several previous posts we looked at scams that target seniors (including newer scams). Here's a look at some simple techniques to arm yourself and your parents against scam artists online, on the phone or at the door:
- Tell mom and dad to just say "no" to anyone they do not know.
- If your parents don't like to say no, here’s a trick for children of aging parents: Ask mom and dad to promise you that they will never buy anything from strangers. That way you're not telling them what to do. And they can blame it on you when they "have to say no" to complete strangers at the door (or on the phone…. or online).
- Make sure they do not read any email where they do not know the recipient.
- Give them strategies for catching scammers off guard. For example ask phone solicitors, "Can I have your number so I can call you back?" Anyone doing anything legitimate will have a 1 800 or 1 888 number. Another thing they can ask is for references or for them to end more information about their company so you can look it over and get back to them if you're interested.
- If someone claims to be someone they know (e.g. the grandparent scam) make sure mom or dad knows to give callers a question that only that person would know the answer to.
- Be sure that your parents have a good anti-spam filter on their email programs they are using. Seniors are especially susceptible to cheap pills and the Nigerian scam.
Stop Senior Scams
Stopseniorscams.org lists five touchstones you need to remind your parents of:
1. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
2. When it comes to a "now or never" opportunity, choose "never"
3. Keep account numbers, codes and passwords private.
4. Shred bills, junk mail and receipts when discarding them.
5. Don't be afraid to report your experiences. If you feel uncomfortable, tell someone.
No matter what age we are, we learn lessons the hard way and many seniors have been duped before they learn not to trust unsolicited emails, phone calls or people at the door. Sometimes they get duped a number of times.
In the last part of our four part look at seniors and scammers we'll look at what you can do if your mom or dad has been scammed.