Tags: scam | financial | older | seniors

How to Protect Yourself From Scams

older man on phone, holding a bill, looking mad and frustrated
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Thursday, 13 June 2024 02:46 PM EDT

Older adults are prime victims of financial exploitation. Seniors typically have retirement savings and need to make important financial and health-related decisions, making them prime targets for scam artists. In addition, because memory and cognition decline with age, older adults may be less likely to recognize scams.

In 2021, there were 90,000 seniors who were fraudulently targeted resulting in $1.7 billion in losses, a 74% increase compared with 2020. Since one in six Americans is over the age of 65, and that number is expected to grow annually, it’s important to protect yourself or others from this common form of elder abuse.

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Psychologists Natalie C. Ebner and Didem Pehlivanoglu, both from the University of Florida, explain why people become more susceptible to fraud with age, according to Study Finds. They say cognitive function declines with age and impacts decision making. Memory function also declines making seniors more vulnerable to email phishing. Adults who carry a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease are particularly prone to financial exploitation, which is one of the early signs of the disease.

Social factors, such as isolation and loneliness, can skew the ability of a person to detect falsehoods. The pandemic led to increased reliance on social platforms causing a rise in fraudulent emails and robocalls among older adults with lower digital literacy.

The psychologists said that older adults who are most vulnerable have a significantly smaller size of insula, an area of the brain that integrates body signals and environmental cues. In one study, these people had difficulty picking up cues on what makes someone a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

The first step in preventing senior scams is to identify who is at risk for financial exploitation and then create appropriate interventions. One way may be to establish an algorithm to determine deceptive text messages, emails or social media platforms.

The authors add that training in financial, health, and digital literacy could help protect seniors, as would programs to address loneliness. People of all ages should be cautious when dealing with online content or strangers, but in the case of older Americans, financial exploitation often comes from someone they know.

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The National Institute on Aging offers these tips:

• Don’t give out sensitive personal information over the phone or in response to an email, social media post, or text message.

• Check incoming bills for any charges that you didn’t authorize. Contact the utility provider, credit card company, or bank if you see charges you don’t recognize.

• Protect your electronic accounts by keeping the security software on your computer and smart phone up to date and by using multifactor authentication when possible.

• Don’t transfer money to strangers or to someone over the phone.

• If someone is trying to scam you, they may threaten or pressure you to act immediately. Don’t panic if this happens to you. Slow down and if you suspect it’s a scam, talk to someone you trust.

Lynn C. Allison

Lynn C. Allison, a Newsmax health reporter, is an award-winning medical journalist and author of more than 30 self-help books.

© 2024 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.


Health-News
Older adults are prime victims of financial exploitation. Seniors typically have retirement savings and need to make important financial and health-related decisions, making them prime targets for scam artists. In addition, because memory and cognition decline with age,...
scam, financial, older, seniors
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2024-46-13
Thursday, 13 June 2024 02:46 PM
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