It is hard enough for middle agers like me to stay up on all the ways our personal information can be collected, accessed, used, disclosed, sold or stolen. It is even harder for our loved ones who are older, but not necessarily wiser in the digital age.
Here are some tips for care givers to keep a handle on their senior loved ones’ privacy and how to help them avoid becoming victims of frauds and scams.
- Put their home and cell phone numbers on the do-not-call list.
- Check their bank statements to review any direct withdrawals to determine whether they are legitimate. Stop all withdrawals that are not necessary, may be out of date, or inapplicable to their living situation. Encourage them to stop giving their bank account information to anyone.
- Educate them about giving their personal information to others, including their senior living community. Just because there is a box or line on a form does not mean that it should be filled in. For instance, the assisted living facility does not need the senior’s driver’s license number. Don’t give them (or anyone else) any information that they do not have a need to know or have.
- Counsel your senior loved one about scams that are perpetrated over the phone and that they shouldn’t give any of their personal information over the telephone. Let them know that the IRS never calls people on the phone for back taxes.
- Monitor and assist them with their social media activity.
- Advise them not keep personal information out in the open for others to view or steal.
- Advise them not to keep their Social Security card or Medicare card in their wallet or purse or in the top drawer of their desk.
- Help them with their privacy settings on their smartphone and explain what they mean and do.
- Encourage them to ask for your help if they need it or don’t understand something. Technology can be intimidating, and they need to feel comfortable to ask questions.
- Vet and monitor care givers carefully.
Frauds are getting more and more sophisticated and schemes are targeting seniors. Help give your loved ones the information they need to protect themselves from becoming victims.