This September, the Naperville Police Department is focusing its Safer Naper campaign on senior safety. Throughout the month, we will cover scams targeting Naperville’s older population, mental health resources for seniors and caregivers, and NPD programs available to seniors. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), people between the ages of 60-69 lost more money to fraud in 2022 (a total of $836 million) than any other age group. Nationally and locally there has been an increase in reports of scams involving cryptocurrency. A common cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency not issued by any central authority (banks) or regulated by a government entity that is sent electronically. Crypto transactions can’t be traced back to specific people, making them attractive to scammers.
Some of these scams involving cryptocurrency are investment related. For example, a person receives a high-pressure phone call promising a high rate of return on investments. Before you know it, they are asking about retirement account and banking information.
The use of cryptocurrency has been increasing where gift cards left off. From government imposters scams to grandparent and romance scams, criminals are requesting payment via cryptocurrency rather than via a gift card due to their lack of traceability.
A newer type of scam involves the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to clone a person’s voice. Artificial intelligence is making phone scams more sophisticated and more believable. Scam artists are now using the technology to clone voices, including those of friends and family and making it appear that they are in distress and in some cases even kidnapped.
Learn to recognize the signs of a scam:
Pressure to act immediately.
Pressure to keep information secret.
Use scare tactics.
Request for sensitive or personal information.
Demands for money, typically in a form that is difficult to recover, such as cash, wire transfer, gift card, pay app or cryptocurrency.
Specific instructions on how to make the financial transaction. These may include a demand to stay on the phone line with the caller while making payment arrangements.
An offer that sounds too good to be true.
Protect yourself from voice cloning scams:
Establish a family password and share it with parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren. Impress on family members the importance of keeping the password private among family members only.
Establish security questions that only family members can answer. Be sure to choose questions whose answers are not easily found using social media or internet searches.
Encourage loved ones and relatives on social media to set their pages and profiles to private. This makes it harder for scammers to collect personal information.
Stay calm. Listen for giveaways like the caller using incorrect names or terms of endearment.
Hang up and call the person at a number known to be theirs.
Call another family member who would most likely be able to verify or contradict what the caller is saying.
Don’t trust caller ID. Phone numbers can be spoofed and make it look like the call is coming from someone official like law enforcement, hospital or jail.
With all the complicated scams out there that are constantly evolving, it’s important for older adults to stay diligent in understanding what scams are out there, how to recognize them, and most importantly, how to avoid falling for them.
For more examples of scams, to delve deeper into mental health, and to learn about local programs available for seniors, visit www.naperville.il.us/ASaferNaper.
Until month… stay safe and stay aware.