Alan D. Feller, Esq.
Scammers and Seniors
Let's keep it simple: if someone you do not know asks you to send them money, tell your family. It could be a voice on the telephone, a text message, or an email. They could say they are from the IRS, Microsoft, or a credit card company. They could even pretend to be your grandchild. Unexpected requests for money should not be acted on until you can gather input from your most trusted family members or closest friends.
Scamming is an epidemic. A byproduct of the digital revolution is the expansion of communication mediums. Once upon a time, a single landline and a physical mailbox were the main connections to the outside world. Communication today is a mishmash of calls, texts, emails, document sharing, social media messages, and work and school messaging. More communication means more opportunities for a scammer to slide in and cause havoc. Add to this mess, the decentralization of primary utilities, service providers, and vendors. The days of 3 or 4 checks being dropped in the mail to cover a mortgage payment, telephone bill, and electric bill are long over. We maintain subscription and financial relationships with so many companies that it is easy to be fooled by a scammer taking a stab at grabbing our attention.
The pace of change in our society has hit most of us pretty hard, but for seniors, a change of this magnitude may feel overwhelming. Smartphones and computers require so many technical operations to function well that scammers can easily convince their marks that an important action was not taken, or a fee was not paid. Not to generalize, but the comfort level that younger generations have with technology may be absent among older generations that did not grow up with the internet or smartphones. Aging tests a person’s natural inclinations and proficiencies. Scammers prey on everyone, but seniors are especially targeted. Aging seniors still want to feel vital. Taking care of a home or billing matter is part of one’s independence. Old-fashioned scams centered around unnecessary home repairs or shady investments are still prevalent. Scammers may believe that a senior confronted with a confusing, but the plausible scenario will play it out and not seek corroboration.
This last sentence is how scammers win. The failure to communicate is a scam’s best friend. Most scams have red flags. Paying a bill should not require a purchase of a pre-paid credit or gift card. Wiring money to some random account sounded out by a stranger over the phone is not right. Agreeing to move large sums of money within a very short time window and without proper documentation is not a good idea. If something seems off, it probably is. Talk to your loved ones. That 2-minute conversation with your daughter or son will save you money and stress.
We cannot stop the daily intrusions. Our phones will continue to buzz and beep. Pop-ups on our computers will keep popping. Personal information has been a commodity for years. Websites and companies use that information to send us targeted ads. Scammers use that information to pry money from aging adults who remain silent. Contact the professionals at Sloan and Feller today to schedule your free no-obligation virtual or in-office consultation.