The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Made Seniors an Easier Target for Scammers

Advice For Caregivers

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Updated: July 24, 2020

senior woman with trees in background

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COVID-19 has changed so many aspects of our life, including a massive economic downturn. With many people out of work, financial scams have become more prominent than ever and senior citizens are often the target. Even before the spread of the virus, seniors were already a target for scammers. Many seniors live alone and enjoy any opportunity to talk to new people. Some seniors are also more likely to be trusting, or may not be aware of current scam tactics involving technology.

For the last few months, many seniors have been isolated to limit their exposure to COVID-19. Because of this, they may be more excited about the prospect of talking to someone online or over the phone, which can lead to scams. If you have a senior friend or family member, talking to them about fraud can help prevent these unfortunate scams. Here are some tips to help seniors avoid scammers.

Talk to the seniors in your life about the most common financial scams. When seniors know what to look for, they can avoid scammers more effectively, and will be less likely to trust new people. You should also teach seniors to be wary of giving money to new friends or romantic interests, and to build up trust before divulging any personal information.

Make sure that the seniors in your life understand how to use email and social media safely. Teach them to be discerning when accepting friend requests, and to only talk to people online that they already know. They should avoid clicking on suspicious links or emails with suspicious subject lines. Remind seniors that any offer that seems to good to be true is likely part of a scam.

Make sure that the seniors in your life know how to stay safe on the phone. They should never give away personal information in a phone call or via text message. Teach them that if a call feels suspicious, it is okay to hang up. Help seniors block the phone numbers of spammers.

Seniors should stay on top of their finances and check their bank accounts frequently. If they notice anything out of the ordinary, they should contact the bank right away. For any major financial transaction, seniors should get all details verified, in writing, before going through with the purchase. If the senior has a power of attorney (POA) in place, that person should also have full access to their finances and keep an eye on them to prevent scams.

During this challenging COVID-19 pandemic for seniors, it is more important than ever for seniors to have social and emotional support. Having these close relationships can help prevent seniors from getting caught up in financial scams. Although seniors may need to be physically isolated, it’s still important that they talk to loved ones via phone or video chat. It’s also crucial that seniors have access to essential daily care, as needed, whether they are in a facility or living at home.