Does your family have senior loved ones? Do they regularly use and enjoy the internet? If your answer is yes, do you check in with them often and discuss what websites they are using? You need to be sure that your senior loved ones are aware that during February many online scammers will attempt to take advantage of emotional vulnerabilities around Valentine’s Day many seniors share their feelings on the internet. In fact, these scams are referred to as, “Sweetheart Scams”. Seniors in California and throughout the U.S. are prime targets because there is a perception that they have access to money, are less tech-savvy than younger adults, and suffer from a higher incidence of loneliness and social isolation.
Sadly, according to the Federal Trade Commission, it reported a record loss of 547 million from these scams on Americans in 2021. So, how can you protect the senior loved ones in your family from these alarming romance scams? As a family, you need to be aware of these scams on your senior loved ones. You also need to make your senior loved ones aware of these scams and advise them on how to keep themselves safe. We have ABC’s or suggestions for how you, your family and your senior loved ones can be protected from romance scammers:
- Always avoid sending anything to anyone you meet on the internet, including money, personal information, bank account information and credit card information. Be very careful if you have recently met someone online and after a few online meetings this person begins to express genuine love and companionship interest and then asks for money. You should be very skeptical, a genuine romantic partner will not ask for money from you. A new scam to be aware of, is to ask for investment money for bogus investments like cryptocurrency. No matter how tempting, it is important to break off all communication immediately. Never offer to accept money either, it may be another way of gaining access to your financial accounts, or an illegal money laundering trap. You must always protect yourself by reaching out to your family and friends for advice.
- Be very suspicious of anyone you meet online not wanting to meet in person. Think about it, would someone who is truly a romantic online interest really not want to meet in person? If you meet someone online, be patient and take your time getting to know the person before committing to a relationship. In fact, be very careful of someone who claims to have fallen in love with you very quickly, before you have met in person or even talked on the phone. We cannot stress enough, be very careful to not share personal information online, including your last name, address, and financial information. Again, it cannot be said enough, reach out to family and friends for advice.
- Claims of someone you have just met online need to be investigated. Be extremely careful when you meet someone online who claims to be from the US but is currently traveling or working abroad. Scammers often use this excuse to explain why they cannot meet in person. You can use a search engine to check a person’s name, email, or phone number to see if they have a history of scamming. If you are unsure how to do this, ask a family member or friend. Be extra cautious if the person you are talking to says they are in the military, an oil rig worker, or in a similar profession because many scammers use this as a ruse.
The best protection you can give the senior loved ones in your family is to be involved with them! The whole family should be involved with your senior loved ones, talking to them and inquiring about what is happening on the websites they visit. Keep the lines of communication open and ensure that your senior loved ones are protected.
Do you have questions? We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Our office is here for you and your loved ones. Please call us to schedule a meeting time.