Snake Oil in the Computer Age, Protecting Seniors From Scams
Five phone calls in the last three days, were…you guessed it…scams. Two callers claimed to be the IRS and The G’s (my mom and dad) owed the IRS money. Their line, “We can save you additional penalties if you want to clear this up now over the phone.” Right. Let me just give you my credit card number.
Per the National Counsel on Aging, “Financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they’re now considered ‘the crime of the 21st century’.”
Elders are targeted by nefarious types preying on their generous natures. The ingenuity of scammers bilking seniors astounds me. Why can’t they use those skills for good?
The G’s get requests for money almost daily. Some are worthy charities, many are not. My dad was alarmed to get an email telling him our daughter-in-law was traveling and urgently needed money. He was truly upset. She was home and fine but it was hard convincing him.
Radio and TV geared for seniors tout ads promising magic cures for the ailing aged. My mom, without our knowledge, signed up for a “vitamin of the month club”. She was convinced these “super vitamins” would cure her incurable problems. She insisted my dad call and sign up. We discussed this many times in the past and I did the calling and fixing. So this time I put on my mean daughter pants and put the burden on Dad to call his credit card company and the magic vitamins company. I felt bad listening to him explaining what happened (it was almost physically painful) but he hasn’t let Mom talk him into phone-buying since. I’m OK with being the “bad guy” in this case.
Dad is a sucker for antivirus programs. His computer has so many malicious virus/antivirus programs, the it’s unusable. They fight each other. He doesn’t realize some auto-renew either. We finally cut their credit cards to one that has a small limit. We didn’t do it to be mean or controlling. Our motivation is to protect them from themselves and preserve what they need to provide for their care.
While writing this, I walked into the G’s room and there was Dad, listening to a sales pitch for buying an online class on how to use his iPhone. I reminded him not to buy it. We give him a daily a one-on-one tutorial. His response? “I thought it was free”. Sigh.
Have you had to protect seniors you love from scammers?