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Senior scam-dals

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How many text messages have you received this week about missent loads, winning a raffle, undelivered post office packages, and double-your-money offers?

By now, you may have noticed the suspicious proliferation of messages that ask you to click on links to verify your address, claim a prize, or comply with requirements regarding a supposed fine. You, of course, know better than to comply – and fall victim to these fraudulent messages seeking to phish for your details and possibly hack you.

But can you say the same for the rest of your family, especially your elders? Grandparents, parents, uncles, and aunts may also receive tempting offers when you are not with them, and the not-so-tech-savvy among them may be vulnerable targets hurried to action by spurious messages and other scams — and even put their safety at risk.

The National Council on Aging of the United States explains that elderly folks are targeted by con artists and fraudsters as they “believe this population has plenty of money in the bank.” The group also cautions that both wealthy and low-income older adults are targeted. But even if scams are left unreported or considered as low-risk crimes, “they’re devastating to many older adults and can leave them in a vulnerable position, with limited ability to recover their losses.”

According to the Philippine Information Agency, there are 9.22 million Filipinos aged 60 and above as of 2020. And while people of any age experience can fall prey to an array of scams nowadays, equipping our elderly with the right information can alert them about scams and the actions they can do to protect themselves. Here are some of the deceptive acts to be more mindful of.

Government impersonation scams. Older people may receive text messages, e-mails, or even phone calls regarding their pension, healthcare, bank accounts, or properties. If you engage, you’ll be dealing with imposters pretending to be government employees, or personnel of hospitals, banks, real estate companies, and more. Anyone who receives these types of messages should resist doing the immediate actions the other party asks them to. Do not click on a link, do not provide any personal information, do not share passwords, and do not withdraw large sums of money in a heartbeat. Stop any form of communication and ask family members to help you confirm what exactly is going on. If unsure – and when safe and able – go directly to a bank to look into transactions the caller said need attention. Many government agencies already allow Filipinos to transact via their official websites. Log into your account and check for any messages that ask you to take action. Do not allow anyone access to your personal data to reduce the risk of someone stealing your identity to access your government benefits, money, and healthcare services.

Family-related scams. Scammers promise enticements in the form of supposed cash earnings, raffle prizes, and whatever. They also appeal to our emotions in a bid to make us follow their instructions. They know that family is one way to get our attention. You may have heard of grandparents getting calls about their grandchildren getting into accidents and, hence, are in need of cash for hospital expenses. How about older folks who have strangers instructing them to deposit large amounts of money to their accounts for a friend or relative supposedly in need or urgent help? Grandparents may also get text messages from people who pretend to be their grandkids in need of money. These “grandkids” ask grandma or grandpa not to tell their parents of the trouble they are in. Similar to government-related scams, the best action is no action. Call your relatives via the numbers you have always used to contact them. Double-check with another person in the family circle. Ask the person texting or calling for details only family members will know, like where you had dinner last weekend or the name of the first family pet.

Romance scams. The National Council on Aging describes this scam as a form of exploiting “older adults’ loneliness to get money.” Through channels like online dating apps or even social media chats, scammers build emotional connections that eventually lead to asking for money for emergencies or to fund their travel expenses so they can meet. The group says these scams “drag on for a long time” and “can milk an older person out of substantial funds.”

For younger members of the family: Check on with your elders frequently. Observe for sudden increase in spending or unusual bank withdrawals. Mobile wallet applications also make it easy for any of us to be fooled. Sit down with your loved ones who you think maybe falling into this trap. Warn them and help them confirm the identity of the person they are connecting with. Together, you can also unravel the other party’s real intent.

Investment scams. Our senior folks are mostly retired, enjoying the fruits of their hard work. Unfortunately, their financial capacity also makes them the perfect targets for investment scams. Especially when things appear too good to be true, do your homework. Validate the identification and confirmation of sales personnel who offer you properties for sale. Have documents checked by government agencies or any bank payment scheme confirmed by the bank itself. Do these checks independently, without informing the people who are offering anything to you. Do not sign any document without having your lawyer review what you are getting into.

Internet fraud. Regardless of age, we should also be wary of online scams that may come in the form of anti-virus software download offers or free offers that pop up on our browsers. Clicking on these can grant access to the data in our computers or phones. Familiarize everyone in your home about phishing or actions by cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive information by posing as legitimate offices or people. Never give out information such as your birthday, bank account details, online banking log-in credentials, passwords – basically any form of data about yourself. Ignore chat or pop-up messages from strangers telling you that your computer needs fixing, as the next steps they ask you to do can enable them to take control of your gadget remotely.

Robocalls. The National Council on Aging says this scam can be done so quickly – as fast as responding “yes” to a caller who is asking you if you can hear him or her. According to the Council, “robocalls take advantage of sophisticated, automated phone technology to dial large numbers of households from anywhere in the world.” And while there are legal uses for it, these can “also be used to carry out a variety of scams on trusting older adults who answer the phone.” Examples include calls about renewal payments for a service or callers impersonating bank personnel. The best thing to do is not to answer robocalls, according to usa.kaspersky.com. “If you answer the call, your number is considered ‘good’ by the scammers, even if you don’t necessarily fall for the scam,” the site says. “They will try again because they know someone on the other side is a potential victim of fraud. The less you answer, the fewer robocalls you will receive.”

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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