Scams have always been around. There are always people out there looking to exploit other people where they can. As our lives have changed, and technology has evolved, so have scams. In 2020 we’re less likely to have a scammer knock on our door, but far more likely to receive a suspect email, be contacted on social media, or get a phone call from a scammer.
Those of us that have grown up using the internet are used to this. We rarely answer the phone if we don’t know the number, we filter our emails, and we laugh at all those Nigerian Princes offering us millions. But, our older family members are at much higher risk. They are more trusting with the internet, and less likely to spot a scammer. They have less experience with the internet and haven’t developed the same instincts. Scammers and other criminals know this, and so are more likely to target older people.
Explain the Risks
The most important thing that you can do is talk to your relative about popular scams, but also about the basics of internet safety. Explain the risks that they face clearly, and offer simple and straightforward tips, like how they should never give out their bank details over the phone or online.
Offer Internet Advice
Your older relative might have minimal experience of the internet. Spend some time with them, showing them how it works, and any social media sites that they might want to use. Bookmark sites they want access to, so they don’t have to look around on their own and help them to create memorable, but safe passwords.
Help Them Find Caller Details
If an unknown number called you, you probably wouldn’t answer. Meaning the risks of getting conned are very low. An older person might answer, just in case it’s an emergency. They then instantly become more likely to fall for the scammer’s story or to share their bank details.
There are ways to find out who is calling. Giving older relatives this information can help them to be prepared. Even if they do answer the phone, they’ll have their guard up.
Keep in Touch
Don’t assume that once you’ve explained, they’ll be fine. Keep in touch, ask how they are getting on online, and encourage them to confide in you if they have any concerns, or have encountered any suspicious behaviour.
Be Patient Answer Questions
Using the internet and modern technology might come naturally to you. You’ve grown up with it. It’s part of your daily life. Remember, this isn’t the same for older adults. It might all be entirely new for them. They might feel very confused and uncertain, and they won’t have the knowledge to spot that anything is wrong. The more they know, the better chance they’ll have at staying safe. So, be patient, answer their questions, and offer advice when you can.
Take a Trip to the Bank
Most banks today are aware of scams and how they target older people. Your relatives bank may be able to offer them assurances, and further advice to protect their money. Make an appointment, and go with them. Give the bank your contact details in case of emergencies.