Keeping Seniors Safe From Scams

Technological advancements are continually on the rise, providing easier access to information as well as a variety of new platforms for convenient communication. However, this also introduces new complications and potential threats if not used with caution and discretion.

Opportunities for Connection

These new ways to connect with one another can help us maintain important connections and to reach out to one another through easier and more diverse types of communication. This convenient access to one another can be beneficial and enriching within our lives, but it also opens the door to possible deception and exploitation by people with dishonest or harmful intentions.

Increased Exposure

The fact that contact details and other personal information are now easier to access than ever before, means that scams and fraudulent activity are also more widespread and prevalent than they have been in the past. Unfortunately, seniors are among the groups most often targeted by scammers due to their greater susceptibility and trusting nature. It is extremely important for seniors and their caregivers to understand how to best avoid scams and enhance overall security.

Why Target Seniors?

Generally speaking, seniors are understood to be a more vulnerable population who are more unsuspecting and less technologically literate than their younger counterparts. While these blanket assumptions are not always true, they lead people attempting to get away with deceit and fraud to believe that seniors are the perfect target.

Cognitive Changes – Research has shown that aging leads to changes in the brain that reduce seniors’ capacity to identify and detect deception and dishonesty. This results in even the most sceptical and distrusting seniors being at a greater risk of falling prey to the ploys of scammers.

Presumed Frailty – There are numerous other aspects of older age that set seniors up to be accessible targets for scammers. First of all, many seniors are at home a lot throughout the day which means there is a significant amount of time for seniors to be targeted in door-to-door or telephone scams. Many seniors are often home alone during the daytime, so scammers assume there is no one else to help seniors identify deceit and fraud.

Technological Deficiencies Seniors are often also understood to be less technologically savvy than their younger counterparts, making scammers hopeful they are unable to identify internet or email scams on their computers or other devices. Scammers take advantage of presumed aspects of seniors’ lives that they understand to be weaknesses or areas of ignorance so that they are more likely able to get away with ploys of deception.

Keeping Seniors Safe

It is an unfortunate reality that many scammers set out to target seniors, but it is an existing concern nonetheless. For this reason, it is important that seniors and their caregivers have purposeful conversations to put safeguards in place to prevent fraudulent activity imposed by people trying to take advantage of them.

Email and Internet – When it comes to scams initiated via the internet, there are preventative measures that can be taken to help keep seniors safer. Installing security software, adding spam and junk filters, and implementing safeguard settings can help keep harmful or fraudulent messages at bay. Seniors should also be vigilant about making sure they never click on pop-ups, open unfamiliar attachments, follow website links from unknown sources, respond to emails from strangers, or release personal information. If concerns do arise, seniors should seek technical assistance as quickly as possible.

Encounters at the Door – Refraining from answering the door to strangers is the option that would best keep seniors safe from encounters with potential scammers. However, the truth is that it might be challenging or unrealistic for seniors to avoid opening the door to anyone they don’t know. Whether it be because other services are delivered to the door, or because seniors may feel inclined to be courteous to anyone ringing their doorbell, it can be hard to make it an overarching rule to never answer the door. If someone unsolicited should come to the door, the following are some good rules to follow:

  • Never accept a service that you did not request
  • Never allow strangers to enter the home
  • Never disclose personal information
  • Never give cash
  • Never sign anything

Phone Calls – Similarly to issues with answering the door, the best option for avoiding phone-based scams is to abstain from answering calls from unknown or unfamiliar numbers. Setting up a call display can help with this option. Alternatively, registering with Canada’s Do Not Call List can reduce the number of calls that come in. Should a call from an unknown number come through, seniors should ensure that they do not offer up any personal information (such as name, address, or banking information), and should not say ‘yes’ to receiving any services that they did not seek out themselves.

Reporting Scams – Anyone can be targeted by a scam, and seniors should never feel ashamed or embarrassed about being tricked or deceived. If seniors should find themselves caught in a scam, it is crucial that they report the incident so that they can help stop the culprits from striking again and victimizing someone else. This also helps ensure the appropriate investigations take place to catch the perpetrators. With some support and assistance from friends, family, and trusted caregivers, seniors in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge can work to make sure they are prepared and aware to effectively avoid potentially fraudulent situations and scams.

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