5 tips for seniors to stay a step ahead of schemers

June 06, 2018

Today’s digital world presents opportunities for often-targeted seniors to protect themselves from financial fraud.

 

Blue suit. White shirt. Yellow tie.

Arthur was dressed up and ready to collect a grand prize from the sweepstakes company soon to arrive at his doorstep. The prize, however, turned out to be a Trojan horse. The 85-year-old was victimized by sophisticated scammers who left him with just an expensive loan for a bed he did not need.

His experience, which started with a phone call, is all too common. Fraud costs senior citizens billions of dollars every year, and the majority of scams start that same way. Despite our increasingly digital world, the phone call reigns supreme – for now.

We asked several U.S. Bank experts how you can stay a step ahead today, and in the future as fraud moves digital.

 

1. Let it go to voicemail

Your phone is the new doorbell. Don’t pick up unless you know who is calling. If you pick up and the caller asks if you have a moment to talk about your account with a particular bank, you’d be giving them valuable information just by confirming or implying whether you have such an account.

The same rule applies to your digital interactions. Don’t open unfamiliar emails.

 

2. Use technology more smartly than the fraudsters

Technology can enable a family to help each other, said U.S. Bank Chief Digital Officer Dominic Venturo. For example, your bank likely offers real-time text or email alerts about transactions in your account.

“For one of our family member’s accounts, others receive alerts on transactions over a certain dollar amount,” Venturo said. “We’re not signatories on their account, but we’re able to say ‘Hey, did you do that transaction?’”

 

3. Speak up before forking over

You do a service to others by speaking up, and you have the ability to do so right at your fingertips. Apps like Nextdoor or Facebook can help you educate your neighborhood or social network about trending scams.

People can be an important intermediary, said U.S. Bank District Manager Millie Mia. “Ask a banker about any transactions you’re unsure about, especially if someone is asking you to send money via wire transfer.”

 

4. Practice good computer hygiene

Software companies provide regular updates that are designed to provide added security against newly emerging cyber threats and viruses.

Practicing good computer hygiene, such as updating device software, prevents the vast majority of cyber-attacks. Do the same with you smartphone and other devices.

 

5. Know the latest scams

Grandma, it’s me… or, is it? One of the most common scams lately has centered on fraudsters pretending to be a grandchild in trouble, urgently requesting money for jail bond or even ransom. “This isn’t just financial abuse,” said Mia. “It’s emotional abuse.”

Similar imposter scams are popping up online. Be wary of those posing as tech support representatives and government officials. And with each of our digital footprints, it’s never been so easy to be an imposter.

Although often targeted for fraud, seniors are not alone and not even necessarily the most vulnerable. The Federal Trade Commission found, for example, that last year those in their 20s lost money to scams at a higher rate than those in their 70s. Even the most tech-savvy are targeted.

 

Read about one banker who is on a personal mission to prevent elder fraud to help others avoid what his father and family have gone through.

Related content

How to prepare for healthcare costs in retirement

8 steps to choosing a health insurance plan

7 things to know about long-term care insurance

Year-end financial checklist

How to use debt to build wealth

How to discuss money with your family

5 financial goals for the new year

3 types of insurance you shouldn’t ignore

How to avoid being the victim of a digital payments scam

Webinar: Mobile banking tips for smarter and safer online banking

How to choose the right custodian for your managed assets

Checklist: 10 questions to ask your home inspector

5 things to avoid that can devalue your home

Fraud prevention checklist

7 steps: How couples and single parents can prepare for child care costs

9 simple ways to save

Adulting 101: How to make a budget plan

Common unexpected expenses and three ways to pay for them

What you need to know about renting

Here’s how to create a budget for yourself

How I did it: Learned to budget as a single mom

How to save for a wedding

It's possible: 7 tips for breaking the spending cycle

Money Moments: 3 smart financial strategies when caring for aging parents

Personal finance for teens can empower your child

Save time and money with automatic bill pay

Money Moments: 3 tips for planning an extended leave of absence

What’s in your emergency fund?

Understanding guardianship and power of attorney in banking

How I did it: Bought my dream home using equity

Buying a home Q&A: What made three homeowners fall in love with their new home

House Hacks: How buying an investment property worked as my first home

Starting your homebuying journey: Tips from a U.S. Bank Goals Coach

How I did it: Built living spaces to support my family

Spring cleaning checklist for your home: 5 budget-boosting tasks

Saving for a down payment: Where should I keep my money?

Your guide to breaking the rental cycle

Checklist: 6 to-dos for after a move

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Building a home

How I did it: Bought a home without a 20 percent down payment

4 ways to free up your budget (and your life) with a smaller home

Get more home for your money with these tips

Money Moments: Tips for selling your home

Money Moments: How to finance a home addition

How I did it: My house remodel

Building a dream home that fits your life

10 questions to ask when hiring a contractor

Is it the right time to refinance your mortgage?

10 ways to increase your home’s curb appeal

What is a home equity line of credit (HELOC) and what can it be used for?

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Home renovation

The lowdown on 6 myths about buying a home

Is a home equity line of credit (HELOC) right for you?

10 uses for a home equity loan

Preparing for homeownership: A guide for LGBTQ+ homebuyers

Beyond the mortgage: Other costs for homeowners

How to use your home equity to finance home improvements

What to know when buying a home with your significant other

Dear Money Mentor: When should I refinance a mortgage?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: How much house can you afford?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: Buying or renting – What’s right for you?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: What is refinancing, and is it right for you?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: Prequalification or pre-approval – What do I need?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: How does your credit score impact the homebuying experience?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: Finding the right home loan for you

Webinar: Mortgage basics: 3 Key steps in the homebuying process

8 steps to take before you buy a home

These small home improvement projects offer big returns on investment

What is refinancing a mortgage?

How do I prequalify for a mortgage?

6 questions to ask before buying a new home

Home equity: Small ways to improve the value of your home

Closing on a house checklist for buyers

How to prepare for a natural disaster

Checklist: financial recovery after a natural disaster

Learn to spot and protect yourself from common student scams

Protecting elderly parents’ finances: 6 steps to follow when managing their money

4 ways to outsmart your smart device

How to spot an online scam

Learn how to spot scams related to COVID-19

Money muling 101: Recognizing and avoiding this increasingly common scam

What you need to know about identity theft

What you need to know about financial fraud

From LLC to S-corp: Choosing a small business entity

5 tips for seniors to stay a step ahead of schemers

Recognize. React. Report. Don't fall victim to financial exploitation

Recognize. React. Report. Caregivers can help protect against financial exploitation

Is online banking safe?

Identity stolen? 5 steps to take immediately

How you can prevent identity theft

Webinar: U.S. Bank asks: Are you safe from fraud?

8 tips and tricks for creating and remembering your PIN

Know your debt-to-income ratio

How to apply for federal student aid through the FAFSA

Your financial aid guide: What are your options?

Crypto + Relo: Mobility industry impacts

For today's homebuyers, time and money are everything

Crypto + Homebuying: Impacts on the real estate market

Comparing term vs. permanent life insurance

For today's relocating home buyers, time and money are everything

Webinar: Mindset Matters: How to practice mindful spending

High-cost housing and down payment options in relocation

Post-pandemic fraud prevention lessons for local governments

Can you take advantage of the dead equity in your home?

CancelSave & Close Planning self-care moments that matter (and how to finance them)

How I did it: Turned my side hustle into a full-time job

How to test new business ideas

5 steps to take before transitioning your business

How to expand your business: Does a new location make sense?

Fight the battle against payments fraud

Tactical Treasury: Fraud prevention is a never-ending task

Protecting cash balances with sweep vehicles

4 tips for protecting your business against Coronavirus-related scams

How to improve your business network security

Should you buy a house that’s still under construction?

Start of disclosure content

Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rate and program terms are subject to change without notice. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.

U.S. Bank is not responsible for and does not guarantee the products, services or performance of U.S. Bancorp Investments, Inc.