Strangers with Candy: Senior Edition

When you were little, your parents probably sat you down one day and told you not to take candy from strangers.  Now that your parents are getting up in years, it might be time for you to return the favor.

Senior Exploitation, Home Care in Minnesota, Home Care in Edina, Affordable Home Care, Assisted Home Care, Senior Citizen Care, Home Care Services for SeniorsIdentity theft and other scams pose a particularly serious threat to seniors who likely lack the technology finesse to navigate the rapidly changing rules of online safety.  “Marvin” was one senior who kept falling for common email scams.  Despite the intervention of Right at Home staff, his bank, and others in his life, Marvin continued to send money overseas in hopes of striking it rich.  Not only was he losing money he couldn’t afford to lose, it eventually played a part in ending his ability to remain in his own home.

Many seniors know the danger of identity theft that awaits them—they may know not to give their social security number out over the phone or not to let a stranger into their homes—but as technology and methods of identity theft change, your senior parents’ lack of technology experience might become a liability.

Here are some common methods of stealing personal information for you to share with your elderly parents:

1.  Dumpster Diving—Even with all the high tech wizardry available to collect and sell personal information, dumpster diving is still a popular source of identity theft.  It’s not like the old days when your parents could just throw away credit card and social security statements.  Remind them to shred anything with personal information on it.

2.  Email Scams—Many seniors are getting into email, and it’s important they know the ins and outs of email so they don’t fall for scams.  Remind them:

  • Do not open emails from people they don’t know.
  • Never follow an email link to enter in personal or financial information.  Explain to them how scammers can create emails and websites that appear to be from legitimate banks and credit card companies in order to get their credit card information.
  • Explain to them the nature of email foreign lottery scams as well as scams featuring women from foreign countries who supposedly need help.
  • Explain to them how the “cash our check for us” scams work—that scammers send fraudulent checks, have the senior cash them, and then have the senior mail large sums of money back to the scammers.
  • Let them know how people’s emails get hacked, thereby sending out links and requests for money that appear to be from friends but are not.
  • Let them know never to click on a link in an email unless they can tell that their friend’s email has not been hacked.


3.  Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Phishing Scams—As seniors branch out into the world of social media, they may be more open to falling for the common scams that appear on these sites, including links to fake Facebook applications in order to steal passwords as well as links to viruses and other questionable sites.

4.  Walk them through the complicated (and often confusing) privacy controls available to them on Facebook and other social media sites so that they can have full control over who has access to their personal information.

For additional information and resources, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

Carol Hauser, M.A.



February 14, 2012


Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply