Every year, there’s a new wave of scams directed toward the elderly. The dishonest assume that increasing age makes people deaf, dumb, blind, and stupid – assumptions that are far from the truth. In this age of identity theft and deceptive ploys run over the Internet, by mail, and in person, however, it pays to be cautious. Remember the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
In former years, most business was conducted in person. After a time, you knew your bank teller, insurance agent, financial advisor, and other people you transacted business with. Now a considerable amount of business takes place online or by phone. You might not be able to change the trend toward a more impersonal type of business interaction, but you can be careful.
Tips For Email And the Internet Transactions
Here are a few things to remember for seniors and others who often targeted for scams relevant to the Internet age. Many businesses do run the bulk of their business online, and you can be fairly sure that your personal information and credit card number will be safe if you see a little Internet security logo (SSL) on the site. Where you should be particularly wary is with email.
1. Be cautious when opening emails from people you don’t know. Looking at the content is not dangerous, but clicking on links in the email can lead to viruses and compromise information if you click on dangerous links.
2. Don’t respond to an email with personal information. If an email claims to be from your bank or credit card company, check their website by typing their address into your browser to update information or respond to a message from within their site.
3. If the email threatens you with action, don’t be intimidated. Many times the email is sent out to a large group of people and does not even contain your name in it. Again, contact the company who apparently sent it, but do not click on the email to find contact information.
4. Limit the number of contacts, sweepstakes, or “free” offers you respond to. Businesses want your contact information for their own marketing. While this can be a fair trade, the more times you pass along your information, the more junk mail you will get and the more the possibility compromising your information.
5. Ignore the rising tide of emails from widows of deceased monarchs, foreign lotteries, and others who claim you have a barrel of money waiting. These emails want you to send money to claim your “prize” or “inheritance,” which will never come.
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Tips For Phone Transactions
Many scams start over the phone so be wary of calls from numbers you do not know.
1. Be careful about talking about finances over the phone, especially if you did not initiate the inquiry. In other words, if your stockbroker is calling you back to talk to you about an investment, great. If you get an unsolicited call from someone who wants you to invest in an “opportunity,: though it’s convenient to do business over the phone rather than going out, don’t fall for it.
2. Rather than discuss your business with someone who may not be who they claim, get a number and call the person back. If they claim to be from your bank, but the number is not a company number, call the bank for information about solicitors who might be calling you.
3. If an opportunity sounds great, take time to think about the offer and check it out. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor, especially before making changes in your investments or investment strategy.
4. Remember the initial advice given above about things being too good to be true. If someone offers you a special price or a high rate of return or a limited offer, ask yourself, “What’s the catch?” Follow this quickly with, “Why would they randomly pick me to receive this information or special offer?
5. Don’t be pressured to make decisions on the spot. Rather, take advantage of your Internet savvy and check out the website of the company the caller represents online.
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Roy Thomas SRES® (Senior’s Real Estate Specialist) is a REALTOR® with Sutton Group Professional Realty. Since 1991, Roy specializes in helping retirees with their later in life real estate transactions. Call Roy at 902-497-3031 or contact Roy here