Protect Your Aging Loved One

Con artists, cybercriminals, and identity thieves routinely prey on older Americans in hopes of exploiting vulnerabilities that often occur in aging adults. These vulnerabilities such as a limited understanding of technology, an overly trusting nature, and a change in cognitive impairment can cause victims to unknowingly give fraudsters easy access to their bank accounts, credit cards, and other personally identifiable information.

Often times seniors are afraid to bring up these issues so if you have aging parents, neighbors or loved ones, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office challenges you to take the time to talk to them about the dangers they may encounter online, on the phone, and through the mail.

Don't be afraid to:

Ask them "What's in your wallet?" A quick check of a purse or wallet might reveal they are carrying too much information around with them. Generally, they only need a driver's license, one credit card, emergency contact information and maybe a health insurance card. They do not need to carry their social security card.

Help them opt out of unnecessary stuff. Stop credit card offers and other unsolicited marketing material by opting out. There is no charge for this service. Call 1-888-567-8688 or www.optoutprescreen.com.

Explain the dangers of phone scams including the Sweepstakes/Lottery scam, Grandparent scam, IRS scam, Technical Support scam, Romance scam and many others. Remind them to never give out their personal information over the phone but instead, hang up immediately. 

Talk about "phishing" emails, social media networks and fraudulent websites. Clicking on unverified links, not updating security software, entering personal information on an unsecured site and downloading infected attachments is an invitation to malware and identity theft.

Never ever pay upfront for a promise or because of a threat. A request from a stranger to wire transfer funds, purchase a gift card or pre-paid money card is a huge red flag. Scammers will use this technique to have a victim move money quickly, as these transfers are nearly impossible to trace. Once the money is gone; it is gone.

For more information about this safety and security tip, or to report a fraud or scam, contact the Lee County Sheriff’s Office fraud line at 258-3292.