As the holiday season joyfully approaches, our elderly parents deserve to be surrounded by warmth and happiness, not nefarious scammers looking to get one over on them. With a recent study revealing that scammed holiday shoppers lost an average of $1500 last year, the need for vigilance is more apparent than ever. During this festive time of year, scammers often up their game, targeting vulnerable seniors through text messages and phone calls.
In this blog, we’ll explore some of the common scams, learn how to recognize them and uncover essential strategies to protect your older parents from these holiday scammers.
To keep your older parents safe from scams, teach them about the tricks scammers use, especially during the holidays. Talk about holiday scams like fake charity requests, “gift card” giveaways and misleading online shopping deals. The golden rule here? Never share personal or financial information, such as social security numbers, bank account details or passwords, with anyone over the phone or online.
According to Amazon’s State of Internet Scams 2022 Report, there are 5 big red flags to watch out for when shopping online:
- Poor grammar
- Refusing to video chat
- Being in the military
- Working overseas
- Asking to be paid in gift cards or cryptocurrency
Keeping the lines of communication open with your folks is a real game-changer, especially when scammers are out there during the holiday hustle and bustle. Regular check-ins help you gauge their susceptibility to scams and address any concerns promptly. Encourage them to inform you about any suspicious calls or messages they receive, particularly those offering unbelievable deals, prizes or charity donations. As a family, you can create a holiday-specific email address or phone number exclusively for official communications, minimizing the risk of scams.
Embrace the Power of Screening
Teach your parents the fine art of call screening, where they can decide whether an incoming call is “naughty” or “nice”. Scammers might disguise themselves with phony numbers or caller IDs, so it’s vital to be extra cautious. You can even help them set up call-blocking features on their phones to filter out known scam numbers.
Keep an Eye Out for Impulse-Buying
Telemarketers can be as persistent as that one holiday song stuck in your head! But during the holidays, they go all out with their high-pressure sales pitches, trying to lure seniors into making on-the-spot decisions.
So, make sure your parents know the drill – before they dive into any major financial decisions, tell them to give you or someone they trust a call. No rush, no pressure. It’s all about taking your time and getting a second opinion before pulling out the credit card.
Review Financial Statements Together
Extend a hand to your parents to check out their financial statements – and put on your detective glasses while you’re at it. Look for unusual or unauthorized transactions, or consider setting up online account access for yourself or a trusted family member, making sure their finances remain safe from any holiday capers.
Encourage Safe Password Practices
Remind your folks to come up with unique, special passcodes and keep them tucked away safely. Two-factor authentication is like an extra layer of tinsel on the tree, making their accounts even more secure. You can even introduce them to a password manager, like 1Password or Bitwarden, keeping their logins all in one place.
Be Wary of Email Phishing Scams
With these pesky phishing emails lurking during the holiday season, it’s crucial to give your senior parents the lowdown on spotting the warning signs about email scams. Teach them to check the sender’s email address.
Tell them to steer clear of any sketchy links or downloads from mystery sources and to be cautious when dishing out personal info via email. And to beef up their defenses, consider installing a trustworthy antivirus software like Norton or McAfee on their devices. It’s like giving their digital world an extra layer of armor against malware.
Guarding Against Holiday Gift Card Scams
Scammers often use holiday themes to lure their victims, and gift card requests are a common tactic. Help your parents to be cautious about unexpected calls or texts that offer amazing deals, prizes or donations.
Also, remind them to verify the authenticity of these offers. Scammers may pretend to be a family member or someone from a famous group. It’s important for your parents to be cautious if they ask for gift cards, and is especially true if the request is urgent.
Adjust Social Media Settings
During the holiday hustle, scammers are hard at work, with a whopping 46% of scams happening on social media in 2023. It’s a good idea to fill your parents in on the secrets of maintaining their privacy and controlling who gets a peek at their posts and pictures. And guess what? This isn’t just a quick fix; it’s a wise move that pays off in the long-term.
Adult children can play a role in making sure there’s only a limited amount of personal info on display to the public. And when it comes to connecting with new people, suggest they stick to people they know personally – no need to let any digital strangers crash their holiday soirée!
Don’t Forget to Report Any “Scammy” Behavior
If your parents stumble upon a holiday-themed scam or anything that seems fishy, tell them to report it pronto to the authorities, like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or their financial institution. Reporting promptly can stop others from being scammed and might help get back lost money.
As the holiday season approaches, there’s no better gift you can give your aging parents than a sense of security and joy. By being proactive, staying connected and keeping an eye out for scams, you can keep not just your parents, but your friends and family safe and make sure they enjoy the holiday season to the fullest. After all, this is the time of year when we should all focus on creating lasting memories and leaving scams and worries behind.
About the Author
Naborforce is all about connecting older adults and their families who need a helping hand with compassionate Nabors who are eager to lend one. Whether it’s securing their social media settings or setting up a foolproof caller ID, our dedicated team is here to lend a hand, so you can enjoy the holidays worry-free. Learn more about our services by calling 844.MyNabor.