The week ahead celebrates an annual event known as International Fraud Awareness Week. The event aims to educate people on the importance of fraud prevention and detection. Our elders are usually targeted first, so we crafted a special list of tips to help them inside.
Warn your grandparents, these scammers almost always come for them first! International Fraud Awareness Week is recognized Nov. 12-18, and it is a global effort to minimize the impact of fraud by promoting anti-fraud awareness and education. With an increase in technology innovations, we are all more at risks at experiencing fraudulent activities and potential identity theft.
It is the 24th year that Fraud Week continues to educate individuals and organizations about the significance of fraud prevention and detection. Fraud Week serves as a global movement to minimize the impact of fraud by promoting anti-fraud awareness and education.
Check out five helpful tips to support your elders below:
Have the Conversation
It doesn’t have to be about aging. We can have a healthy conversation with our elders about the reality of the situation.
Maybe try using yourself and your own experiences with fraudulent activities to show that it affects everyone. Try saying, “I want an extra set of eyes on my financial accounts. Would you mind getting alerts if something happens? I can do the same for you.” Make financial awareness and transparency a two-way street.
One way to navigate these conversations is to use the Transparency<—>Disclosure continuum. Sometimes we make conversations an all-or-nothing topic—”I need to know everything” or “You want to know everything.” Instead, on a continuum you ask, “How much transparency feels good to you?” and “What would you rather keep for future disclosures?”
This will allow for comfort and growth between all parties involved.
Stay Up To Date On Local Scams
Educate your parents and grandparents. Stay in the know about what’s going on in your area and around the world. An easy way to start a conversation is to just ask, “Have you heard about the latest scam?”
Be sure to them regularly to never reply to any request by email, regular mail, or phone for personal information such as a Social Security or credit card number, or to pitches to purchase a product or investment that they didn’t request.
Also refer to this website for helpful information on identifying, reporting and avoiding a variety of scams.
Help Monitor Accounts
Check out a number of tools to prevent and fight fraud. A layer of protection to consider is FidSafe, which is a free, secure online safe deposit box, to save digital backups of electronically scanned essential documents such as bank and investment account statements, birth certificates, insurance policies, passwords, tax records, wills, and more.
EverSafeOpens is another resource that sends suspicious activity alerts, including warnings for unusual withdrawals, missing deposits, odd charges, changes in spending patterns, and much more.
You could choose 3 or 4 people to get alerts. With both of these services, the people who are granted access to the financial documents can be friends, a family lawyer, or biological family members. If privacy is a stumbling block, the service can be set up in a way where you don’t have to reveal amounts you hold in accounts. Monthly fees range from $7.49 for up to 5 financial accounts to $22.99 for unlimited accounts and monthly credit reports. (Pro tip: Fidelity customers receive a discount.)
Take Heed To Cautionary Signs
If an older adult is suddenly reluctant to talk about finances, has trouble paying for everyday expenses or has a high number of incoming phone calls or text messages, those are all potential signs of fraud, said John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud at the National Consumers League, a nonprofit advocacy group.
Scammers are adept at creating a false sense of urgency, Breyault said, telling their targets that they must send funds immediately or the IRS or other authority will come. “They are incredibly inventive,” he added, noting that methods and techniques are constantly evolving. The FTC reports that scam artists are even using artificial intelligence to mimic voices.
If fraud does occur, help the authorities track and prosecute it by reporting it, Nofziger said. Start by reporting to your local police department and using the FTC’s online reporting portal. The AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline has a toll-free number you can call: 877-908-3360.
Avoid Shaming Your Elder
It’s hard enough being scammed. Try to avoid shaming or embarrassing people as it can make the stressful situation even worse. Lead your conversations with kindness and empathy, not anger or belittlement.
Try saying, “I’m sorry this happened to you. Together we’ll figure out next steps. There is no problem that we can’t solve or recover from.'”
Be sure to reassure your elders as aging is something we will all bear witness to, so it’s best to be gentle. Stay safe and remember that anyone can fall victim to scammers! Not just our elders.
Check out more information on International Fraud Awareness Week here.