With all the information and constant reminders about financial scams, credit card fraud and online scams, this generation is (hopefully) better equipped and informed to avoid being victims of financial scams. But what about our senior citizens? The elderly could be primary targets of scammers, especially considering that there are more and more of them joining social networks and becoming tech-savvy nowadays.
In the UK, financial scams studies showed that 22% of grandparents use social media. It would not be so surprising if the Philippines, recognized as the world’s social media capital, registers an even higher figure. Our senior citizens could be easy targets for many reasons:
- They are happily and blissfully retired, and may be enjoying retirement benefits or pensions;
- They may not carry the latest gadget, but they’re probably have a lot of cash from their lifetime savings or retirement fund;
- They’re too tired (or too nice) to be suspicious
Our grandmothers and grandfathers are definitely more vulnerable to scammers. For instance, did you hear about the “phony grandchild” scheme came into light last 2006? Scammers called the senior citizens’ homes and posed as the victims’ grandchild with a simple “Hi, grandma/grandpa” greeting and then asked for money. Apparently, the scam is still prevalent today.
Our elderly can also be scammed online. They can fall victim to false sales ploys and be overcharged wherever they go.The sad thing about these scams is the elderly victim wouldn’t even know that they’ve been deceived or taken advantage of until severe damage is done or their money have been taken.
How can you avoid this from happening to your loved ones?
Now, if you have a parent, grandparent, or a friend who is a senior citizen, it’s YOUR job to make sure that they are safeguarded from these financial scams. Here are a few sure tips to ensure the protection of your loved ones from these pitiless swindlers:
Be patient. Being with old people could really be a challenge. They’re slow, they’re repetitive (sometimes annoying), and they can be pretty stubborn. The only way to make sure that you can protect them is if you have to be extra patient and attentive.
Accompany them if necessary. If you know they will have to sign papers or make certain transactions, be there for them if you can. Don’t leave them on their own, especially if they have poor eyesight. For example, they might fail to see important details in a document which are actually hidden fees or costs. And more often than not, you still have to try to:
Teach them how to manage on their own. The best way for them to be fine on their own is to teach them about the things they should avoid. They used to be really sharp when they were younger, so you have to remind them that things have already changed. It’s like teaching a child how to walk or talk. However, don’t be too hard on them. Break down your instructions into short quick steps. Sometimes, a list might be helpful, in situations where you are teaching them new skills such as how to use a particular piece of technology.
Consider their needs. Choose a phone that is simple yet efficient for use by senior citizens. Help the elderly pre-set speed dials and assign important numbers—yours, another trusted family member, and emergency phone numbers (police, hospital, fire department).
Tell them to trust their gut. A lot of elderly people fele good when you assure them that you trust their judgment. If they feel pressured about someone they talk to on the phone, or if they are asked to supply personal information and they’re not sure why they’re being asked for such, tell them to simply drop the call—or walk away, in case whe they are physically approached. If the people calling or talking to them mean no harm, they wouldn’t hesitate calling a family member of the senior citizen instead.
When you are re-educating senior citizens about protecting themselves from scammers, remember that it’s as if you are teaching a child. Or, you may think of them as teenagers whom you have to warn about the dangers on the Internet.
Tell them not t believe everything they read online and remind them to always consult you before clicking anything or providing their personal information. Remember to still give them the respect they deserve and assure them it is their utmost well-being you care about.