If you use email or telephones you most likely have been the target of scammers. Those who are in their late 70’s or older and/or own real estate are targeted the most. Scammers are becoming more sophisticated and believable, so it is important that we protect our Senior loved ones, as well as ourselves. If you have any phone, you probably have received a call from the “IRS” saying you owe money and are being sued. If you have a cell phone, you probably have received a text from FedEx asking for your delivery preferences. If you have email, you probably have received an email from Amazon saying your payment was declined. There are many more ways scammers are reaching us as we increase our dependence on technology. Here are a few ways to protect yourself and your loved ones.
-If you receive an email from a company, check the email address of the sender. If there are a lot of nonsensical letters and numbers before the @, it is a scam email.
-If you receive an email or text asking you to verify something (purchase, payment, etc.), do NOT use the link. Exit out of the text or email and use your internet browser to go to the company’s website. If there is an issue, there will be a message for you after you log in to your account.
-NEVER give your personal information, credit card, social security number to anyone who calls or texts you. You can always call the company at a phone number that you know is theirs to confirm there is an issue.
-NEVER agree to send money immediately to anyone with verification no matter what the emergency or lottery you may have won.
-Never use “password” or “123456” as a password. Shorter passwords are more vulnerable than those that are longer.
-Change your password frequently and do not use the same password twice in a two-year period.
-Implement additional technology, such as thumbprint or facial recognition software or a secondary protocol (such as a text message number) to access your data.
-Use credit cards instead of debit cards when making purchases online. Credit cards have federal protection, requiring companies to refund your money in the event of a scam.
-When making a payment look for “https;” if you are on a “http” (no “s”) site, you are on a scam site.
If you think you or a loved one might have fallen victim to a scam, 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.