In the early days of email and the internet, it was pretty easy to spot a scammer: the grammar might be a little off or the situation they were presenting seemed so outlandish that it didn’t take a cybersecurity expert to detect when someone was trying to take your money.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals have gotten a lot more sophisticated. I’ve had clients fall victim to the gift card schemes and we’ve had hackers access our clients’ email accounts and use filters to find financial emails in order to send us requests for money. I’ve even had clients who’ve met criminals on dating sites and have ended up giving them money to “help a friend.”
Fortunately, as a financial professional, I receive continuing training on how to spot these schemes. And if you’re reading this, chances are you might be aware of what’s going on out there as well. The concern lies with your older loved ones who might not read about or have access to current information on cyber scams.
AARP had this to say about this “new breed of scammers”:
According to a survey by True Link Financial, older Americans are criminally defrauded of $12.76 billion annually. This includes identity theft and all those crazy scams you hear about but smugly think will never work on you.
Do you consider yourself friendly? Thrifty? Financially sophisticated? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then according to that same survey you are more likely to be defrauded because you may give strangers the benefit of the doubt, are more enticed by bargains and are comfortable moving larger amounts of money around.
Start a Conversation.
In our family, we’ve encouraged my mother to call us if she gets an email that seems a little bit “off.” For example, if someone is sending you an email about an “urgent matter” it probably isn’t urgent – if it were an emergency they would call you. Overall, we’ve laid the groundwork so that if something should happen, she will hopefully be comfortable enough to let us know.
Why is that Important?
No matter your age, when we’ve been taken advantage of we feel a lot of shame and embarrassment. But we shouldn’t; we should give ourselves a little grace. These criminals have spent a lifetime honing their skills in order to manipulate people. It’s what they’re good at. Our minds are not hardwired to think like criminals – we’re used to being good, caring people who want to help others.
So, again, it’s essential to have these conversations before something should happen. Talk to your loved ones now about what’s occurring on the internet so they know they can always run something by you without judgement.
And remember that C. Beach Brown is always here to help. We’re here to give you a second opinion if something doesn’t seem quite right to you. And if you should, unfortunately, fall victim to one of these schemes, we’ll help you figure out the next steps.