St. Louis Oasis has held technology education classes since 2000 and online safety classes since 2004. Online safety is increasingly important as the number of scams and frauds facing Americans continues to grow exponentially. The biggest risk facing Americans of all ages is the belief that ‘it won’t happen to me.’
Our goal is to remind older people that they have plenty of life experience and really CAN avoid scams and frauds. The tried-and-true adages ‘There’s no free lunch’ and ‘If it sounds too good to be true’ really apply here. We suggest that when people are unsure whether to take action they stop and think before they take action and find a trusted person you can talk with when you are faced with a suspicious phone call, email, text message.
There are three primary reasons older people need a trusted person to discuss suspicious phone calls, email and or text messages with.
According to a 2019 report by AARP, older adults hold the vast majority of wealth in the United States. Many older adults have retirement savings, paid off mortgages and pensions. If an older adult falls prey to a scammer they often have more money to lose than a younger person does.
There are variety of scams that are designed just for older adults including Social Security scam, Grandparent scam, Funeral/Cemetery, Medicare scams, Reverse mortgage or homeowner scams and fraudulent anti-aging products marketed to older adults.
Research from Cornell University and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago shows that older adults experience brain changes that can alter the ability to make sound financial decisions. Additionally, older adults often experience social isolation and being isolated from others makes people more vulnerable to exploitation. Having a trusted person who you can discuss financial decisions with is very important.
Who can you trust?
A family member or friend is always best. And since older people sometimes may not have a trusted family member or friend, we recommend a public librarian, financial advisor or employee at their financial institution.
How do you protect yourself from all of these scams?