Got a minute to talk?
With the holidays coming up, there’s no better time to converse with family members about anything (well, except politics). College football rivalry games are coming up, of course.
But we’ll suggest something even more relevant: staying safe from scams.
Last year, Americans lost $8.8 billion in various scams, and no demographic was hit harder than seniors.
So broach the topic with your family, especially your elders. Open communication can not only protect them, but it also lets them know they have someone they can trust if they think something is amiss.
“Don’t keep your senior family members in the dark about scams. It’s time to have ‘the talk.’”
Jeff Taylor, head of commercial fraud forensics for Regions Bank
Know the Most Popular Senior Scams
Bet you can already guess the most popular schemes: grandparent scams and romance scams.
Grandparent scams start with an urgent phone call or text saying a family member is in trouble, needs immediate help – and money to resolve the issue. Before acting, reach out to other family members to see if the call has any validity. Often, you’ll learn that it’s an imposter on the other line.
Romance scams can be obvious in hindsight, but in real time they can mess with your head. Scammers often make contact first on social media, then move the conversation to phone calls or text apps, create romantic tension before hitting you up for money.
Unfortunately, the scams don’t end there. Other popular senior scams include investment, tech support and even sweepstakes scams, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Keep the Conversations Going
Once you’ve discussed it once, keep going. Talk about scams at family gatherings, in regular phone calls and over meals. Tell your senior to let you know when they hear about a friend who may be taken advantage.
Half the battle is making the family member realize they are not alone. Scammers try to isolate victims and use urgency to make them act. But by discussing the topic openly, you’re letting your family member they have help they can trust.
Inform, but Don’t Preach
Family relationships can turn on a dime. Young adults often feel they are turning into their parents. And, at some point, everyone feels they have to now look after their parents.
So, while you’re opening up these important conversations, keep the dialogue even handed. Say, “What do you think about this?” instead of, “Mom, how could you fall for that?” Collaboration is much more effective, and people are more willing to solve a problem together than listen to a lecture.
Always Retain Your Empathy
If someone you know falls victim, don’t blame them. Scammers are successful because they are good at what they do, and they usually work in teams. They fool everyone, using distraction and urgency in a hurry-up world.
Above all, be empathetic.
“I realize this may not be riveting family conversation, but it so important that everyone be aware of the scams targeting our family members,” Taylor added.
Have a Plan
A victim may be dealing with a plethora of emotions, from embarrassment to anxiety. They may not be fully computer literate, which exacerbates recovering after the scam.
Make a list ahead of time who you would contact if you fell victim, from bank contact numbers to law enforcement. One of the best resources for victims after the scam comes courtesy of AARP. Not only do they have volunteers who can provide immediate assistance, your call can help law enforcement spot trends and respond to emerging threats, which will protect others (and your own family) down the road.
Report the Crime
We already mentioned the AARP’s great resource. Another one comes courtesy of the FTC. The link to their website allows you to report what happened, then provides terrific next steps before forwarding the information to law enforcement.
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The information presented is general in nature and should not be considered, legal, accounting or tax advice. Regions reminds its customers that they should be vigilant about fraud and security and that they are responsible for taking action to protect their computer systems. Fraud prevention requires a continuous review of your policies and practices, as the threat evolves daily. There is no guarantee that all fraudulent transactions will be prevented or that related financial losses will not occur. Visit regions.com/STOPFRAUD or speak with your Banker for further information on how you can help prevent fraud.