Scammers and hackers are constantly targeting seniors; every year, they use more sophisticated technology to steal our personal information. The scariest attack uses voice modulation software; the criminals have a friendly but recorded conversation with anyone, such as your Pastor. Then they use that conversation to create a false conversation—then you get a call you’re your “Pastor” asking for your credit card information to help with an emergency at the Church. Since you are familiar with your Pastor’s voice, your guard is down and you are likely to give out the information. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to increase your protection.
NEVER give your personal information, credit card, social security number, or anything else to ANYONE who calls you. Verify the call and call them back on a known telephone number if it seems legitimate. NEVER agree to send money immediately to anyone with verification no matter what the emergency or lottery you may have won. What seems to good to be true is a scam every time. Many scammers access personal information through public Internet networks, such as those available at local coffee shops. Don’t use public free internet sites without verifying from the store the name of their service. In order to prevent strangers from hacking into your personal accounts, use strong passwords that scammers can’t easily guess. Never use “password” or “123456.” Shorter passwords are far more vulnerable than those that are much longer. In addition, be sure to change your password frequently. While no one will do this unless required, for ultimate protection, change your password every 3 weeks, and never use the same password twice in a two-year period. The trick is to use a weird phrase that you will remember easily. Lastly, consider implementing additional technology, such as thumbprint or facial recognition software to access your data. Combining personal identification software with a strong password will prevent the savviest of computer hackers.
You should also consider using credit cards instead of debit cards when making purchases online. When making a payment look for “https;” if you are on a “http” (no “s”) site, you are on a scam site. Credit cards have federal protection, requiring companies to refund your money in the event of a scam. Finally, consider freezing your personal credit with the three major credit bureaus. This will prevent scammers from opening lines of credit in your name. Later, you can unfreeze your credit for a short period before making any major purchases that require credit or refinancing. Freezing your credit information works extremely well for seniors.
If you or your loved ones need advice about protecting your personal information, consider W.G. Alexander & Associates – we are experienced attorneys who offer a unique blend of asset protection, Elder Law and estate planning. You can also attend our free seminars, learn more through our website at www.wgalaw.com, or call us at (919) 256-7000.
Attorney Bill Alexander discusses these issues and more every Tuesday morning on W.G. Alexander & Associates’ radio program, “Asset Protection Today,” on TalkRadio 850 WPTK (AM). Be sure to listen from 9:00-10:00 AM.