Unfortunately, as technology continues to advance, schemes to defraud the public become more and more sophisticated. As soon as computers became part of the landscape, so did computer scammers, criminals willing and able to invade privacy, steal identities, and convince innocents to part with their money. Similarly, as soon as smartphones became ubiquitous, scammers refined their skill set to include more manipulative phone schemes.
Senior citizens soon became, for reasons we will explore shortly, more vulnerable than most to these tactics. Though law enforcement agencies work hard to scout out and punish offenders, for older individuals (not to mention their children and grandchildren) skilled estate planning attorneys who have in-depth knowledge of how to protect assets, may provide the best protection for family funds.
Why Seniors Are Often Targeted by Computer Scam Artists
Young and middle-aged adults are also ensnared in traps deliberately set for them by internet thugs. The reasons elderly individuals may more easily take the bait include:
- They did not grow up in the age of computers and smartphones and are probably not technologically savvy
- They are less likely to be employed or caring for young children and are therefore more available for “conversations” with strangers — on the phone or through emails or texts
- Because many are living on fixed incomes or more aware of inflation than their younger counterparts, they are often more eager to save or win money and so may be more responsive to improbable promises
At Palmer & Slay, PLLC, we successfully serve estate planning clients throughout Mississippi. Our capable estate planning attorneys are all too familiar with the ever-increasing number of computer scams that negatively impact our older clients, and are always seeking new and better ways to protect their assets through trusts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other estate planning methods. We can help protect accumulated wealth not only from con artists, but from creditors, lawsuits, and excessive taxation.
Existing Computer and Phone Scams
There are a great many scams currently being used to take advantage of the elderly and there are, tragically, always more coming down the pike. It is important to remember, and to remind your elders, that those who use these scams have no scruples. Don’t make the mistake of thinking there are tactics too vile for these criminals to employ. Common scams involve both phone calls and computer schemes and include calls or messages that:
- Claim you have won a prize but must pay a handling fee to receive it
- Claim your computer company has detected a virus that will destroy all your data and photos unless you allow them to access your device
- Warn you that you have committed tax fraud (or some other crime) and must pay a large penalty at once or be jailed
- Ask “Can you hear me?” so that your “Yes” can be recorded and replayed as if you were agreeing to whatever ruse they have cooked up
- Inform you that the police have your grandchild and that she or he will be jailed for drunk driving or drug possession unless you send a large amount of money
As noted earlier, there is no limit to how far these criminals will go in their quest for funds and power. Most often they contact older people they expect to be frail and frightened, calling or messaging them in the middle of the night so they are more likely to be sleepy, confused, and frightened by the intrusion. There are even scams that send loud messages over the computer warning that unless you obey demands your computer will crash.
Except for the few scams that are just “pranks” involving pointless desecration of property, all of these scams are ways to coerce an older person to send money before they have time to think the situation through or check with someone they trust.
Protect Your Loved One from Being Robbed by a Scam Artist — Contact Palmer & Slay
While it may be impossible to prevent a cruel scammer from upsetting an older relative, you can definitely help to keep your loved one’s finances intact by making sure large sums are not accessible to criminals. Call us for a consultation so that we can show you how easily we can plan your estate so that you, and your beloved senior, have peace of mind.