Worried about older family member getting scammed

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rdb404
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Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:00 am

Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by rdb404 »

My mother-in-law is a 73 year old widow who's comfortably retired. She's seemed of sound judgment, but yesterday, she fell hard for a tech support scammer. She stayed on the call for 4 hours, giving the scammer her bank account information, buying bitcoin, and even driving to the grocery store to buy gift cards. :oops:

After finally taking DW's advice via text to hang up the phone, she then contacted her bank to alert them to the fraud. She was already out >$1000! :shock:

What steps does she need to take now? We've had her do a factory reset on her phone, which seems to have been set up for remote access by the scammer. She used a different device to reset banking, email, and Facebook passwords. I think she needs to continue to call her banks and credit cards, and probably should freeze her credit with all three bureaus. It is safe to continue using the same banks and credit cards with new account numbers, or should she close accounts entirely and open new accounts with new banks? Should she take the phone to an authorized brick and mortar support center, such as Best Buy, or should the phone be replaced entirely?

DW and I are really shocked at her behavior yesterday. Do we need to take a more active role in managing her finances, and if so, how would we? She is a 5+ hour drive away, so it's not easy to help her on a daily basis. She is fairly isolated, as we're the closest family and she has only a few friends in her town.
dbr
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Re: Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by dbr »

I would probably be sure that phone number is not listed as one of the 2 factor devices for accessing accounts. I don't know what is involved changing the phone number on a phone that might somehow be compromised.

I have dealt with family members that might have such issues. Fortunately, in one case the person became habitually very suspicious of interference with their affairs and would not have responded to such things. Before long they lost track enough of financial affairs that there no longer was any effective interaction with accounts of any kind. We were able to take over finances under POA.

In the second case there was enough financial incompetence that the person was not allowed to have bank cards and accounts that could be hacked. That was after the damage of drug addiction had already been done. Since then I pick up all the mail and handle all the interactions with finances, again under POA. But POA does not stop the grantor from doing something on their own if they decide to. The blessing is that they never decide to.

Since your relative is still functional it might be that a sit down and conversation about the hazards would suffice. I have to admit we get these attempts almost monthly from someone from "Apple" or "Microsoft Support" and it is routine to just hang up. Every now and then it has been someone from a credit card questioning a charge and those have been legitimate, but they don't ask for anything that would give access to accounts.
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ResearchMed
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Re: Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by ResearchMed »

rdb404 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:21 am ...probably should freeze her credit with all three bureaus...
Not "probably": All credit should be frozen. (Yesterday.)
And definitely change ALL account numbers and get new cards.

Can you have a discussion about getting DPOA docs set up so that "whenever necessary", that will be in place?
As dbr mentioned, that won't stop her from mischief if she so decides, so this doesn't prevent more of the same.

Does she understand that it was a scam? Or is she perhsps justifying it, even if only to herself?

It sounds like if someone else called with a different (or even similar?) "story", she might again be convinced, so this could really become a serious situation.

RM
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obgraham
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Re: Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by obgraham »

I'm seeing this as more and more of a concern as we pass into our late 70's. Being a curmudgeon of long standing, I am convinced than anyone who calls or emails me is out to cheat me till proven otherwise. Scammers get nowhere with me. Sometimes I'll have a little "fun" with them.
However, wife, who was formerly a very meticulous and cautious person working as an accountant and financial planner, will regularly ask me about a call or email: "Do you think this one is actually real?" when the purported source is Amazon, Microsoft, the IRS, Social Sec, car companies, etc. (you all know the list!)
Scammers know this, and exploit this tendency of older folks to be trusting, and for that I hope they all rot in a fiery place.
We can't let down our guard about these scams, and everyone should constantly remind their older family members and acquaintances about the absolute need for caution when contacted. A Second Opinion should be the rule.
dbr
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Re: Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by dbr »

One interesting option might be to proceed by asking if one could call them back later. If it is a credit card issue I would call the number on the back of my card.

Sometimes if I get a call about a strange charge or something I go and log into the actual account to see what is going on. I can guarantee that there is never a charge for $1013.23 at Amazon that is going to billed to my card and they want to talk to me about it.

Even Vanguard apparently is known to have sent an email or a call about something, but I would respond by calling them.

I got a notice about some change in the 401k plan, but I logged on to the plan to verify that there really was a notice about a change in plan management.
FlamePoint
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Re: Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by FlamePoint »

I NEVER answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number (i.e. in my contacts). I’ve only had one instance where Fidelity called on my cash management account as they suspected a few charges were not legit (and had put them on hold). They left a voicemail regarding this, and I called them back. I also NEVER click on links in an email. Again, I assume it’s a phishing attempt. If I suspect something might be going on with any of my accounts, I log in first to check them out.

I’ve been very clear with both my parents regarding how scammers might come at them, and every time I see them I reiterate this fact. My Mom can be a little gullible, and almost got caught up in a scam once (before she figured out what was going on). Since that time she’s become a lot more suspicious and aware.

My in-laws got taken by a scammer for quite a bit of $’s. They are now very embarrassed about it. They got taken via a call to their landline, and the scam occurred over the course of several days. We were shocked when we heard about and couldn’t believe that at some point they didn’t question what was going on (or at least call us to ask for guidance). Unfortunately, their generation is very trusting, and the scammers played on their emotions. I think they learned their lesson, however still have a landline (which I’ve strongly recommended they get rid of), along with individual cell phones. My suggestion to them is to never answer their phone unless they recognize the number, and simply let it go to voicemail. It’s hit or miss on this with them.
drzzzzz
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Re: Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by drzzzzz »

I added alerts to my cell phone on all of my parent's credit cards for any amount over $50. Had previously frozen all of their credit; have online access to all of their accounts so I can watch them. Luckily we have had no problems and they both have bad dementia. Added my cell phone or email to all of their accounts and got an IRS pin for tax returns. It also illustrates how family members and friends mental status can rapidly change without us realizing it.
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slow n steady
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Re: Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by slow n steady »

I've seen several people fall to this. They usually seem pretty competent. They all experience extreme shame after the incident so try to go easy on her.

I listened to a podcast about this as well and it walked through the steps and I have to say the scammers are really good at this.

Good luck!
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rdb404
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Re: Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by rdb404 »

She's been able to change all her credit card and bank account numbers, and it seems like there's been no additional fraudulent activity. She went to Best Buy to have the Geek Squad help walk her through a factory reset on her phone, and has signed up with a tech support plan through them.

I don't think she's been able to figure out how to freeze her credit. DW is visiting her next month, so I hope she can help with that.

MIL seems to have accepted that she was scammed, but this has really brought out how little technical literacy she has.
nrkv
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Re: Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by nrkv »

rdb404 wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 11:15 am
MIL seems to have accepted that she was scammed, but this has really brought out how little technical literacy she has.
I think she did everything she can at this point. Your last statement made me respond. I have been a victim of similar scam last year and I’m less than 50 and work in IT. For any thing I do in my work I check and double check and sometimes joke that I have trust issues.
To this day, I cannot explain how I drove from store to store, sat in parking lots and sent photos of gift cards. What started as a “we are from apple customer care” turned into 4hrs on phone and depleted $4,200. The shame and fear of knowing how vulnerable I am today and how it might turn out when I am really old never goes away.

I posted on non-investing forum here back then. I created police report (not that they can help but to bring awareness), reported to FTC and state DOJ.
RetiredCSProf
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Re: Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by RetiredCSProf »

Bored Grandma takes down Scammer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9orPiY2sO_k

I saw this on the NBC nightly news last night -- made my day.
delamer
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Re: Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by delamer »

FlamePoint wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:43 pm I NEVER answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number (i.e. in my contacts). I’ve only had one instance where Fidelity called on my cash management account as they suspected a few charges were not legit (and had put them on hold). They left a voicemail regarding this, and I called them back. I also NEVER click on links in an email. Again, I assume it’s a phishing attempt. If I suspect something might be going on with any of my accounts, I log in first to check them out.

I’ve been very clear with both my parents regarding how scammers might come at them, and every time I see them I reiterate this fact. My Mom can be a little gullible, and almost got caught up in a scam once (before she figured out what was going on). Since that time she’s become a lot more suspicious and aware.

My in-laws got taken by a scammer for quite a bit of $’s. They are now very embarrassed about it. They got taken via a call to their landline, and the scam occurred over the course of several days. We were shocked when we heard about and couldn’t believe that at some point they didn’t question what was going on (or at least call us to ask for guidance). Unfortunately, their generation is very trusting, and the scammers played on their emotions. I think they learned their lesson, however still have a landline (which I’ve strongly recommended they get rid of), along with individual cell phones. My suggestion to them is to never answer their phone unless they recognize the number, and simply let it go to voicemail. It’s hit or miss on this with them.
I don’t know how old your in-laws are.

But I am only a few years younger than the OP’s MIL and it is not true that my “generation is very trusting.”

Yes, sometimes we elders lose cognitive ability. But there are naive, ill-informed, and vulnerable people in every age group. I firmly believe that a lot of people who get scammed at 75 would have gotten scammed at 40 or 50 too.
One thing that humbles me deeply is to see that human genius has its limits while human stupidity does not. | | Alexandre Dumas, fils
mbres60
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Re: Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by mbres60 »

delamer wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 1:47 pm
FlamePoint wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:43 pm I NEVER answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number (i.e. in my contacts). I’ve only had one instance where Fidelity called on my cash management account as they suspected a few charges were not legit (and had put them on hold). They left a voicemail regarding this, and I called them back. I also NEVER click on links in an email. Again, I assume it’s a phishing attempt. If I suspect something might be going on with any of my accounts, I log in first to check them out.

I’ve been very clear with both my parents regarding how scammers might come at them, and every time I see them I reiterate this fact. My Mom can be a little gullible, and almost got caught up in a scam once (before she figured out what was going on). Since that time she’s become a lot more suspicious and aware.

My in-laws got taken by a scammer for quite a bit of $’s. They are now very embarrassed about it. They got taken via a call to their landline, and the scam occurred over the course of several days. We were shocked when we heard about and couldn’t believe that at some point they didn’t question what was going on (or at least call us to ask for guidance). Unfortunately, their generation is very trusting, and the scammers played on their emotions. I think they learned their lesson, however still have a landline (which I’ve strongly recommended they get rid of), along with individual cell phones. My suggestion to them is to never answer their phone unless they recognize the number, and simply let it go to voicemail. It’s hit or miss on this with them.
I don’t know how old your in-laws are.

But I am only a few years younger than the OP’s MIL and it is not true that my “generation is very trusting.”

Yes, sometimes we elders lose cognitive ability. But there are naive, ill-informed, and vulnerable people in every age group. I firmly believe that a lot of people who get scammed at 75 would have gotten scammed at 40 or 50 too.
Exactly what I thought as I read this.
mbres60
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Re: Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by mbres60 »

mbres60 wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 1:59 pm
delamer wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 1:47 pm
FlamePoint wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:43 pm I NEVER answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number (i.e. in my contacts). I’ve only had one instance where Fidelity called on my cash management account as they suspected a few charges were not legit (and had put them on hold). They left a voicemail regarding this, and I called them back. I also NEVER click on links in an email. Again, I assume it’s a phishing attempt. If I suspect something might be going on with any of my accounts, I log in first to check them out.

I’ve been very clear with both my parents regarding how scammers might come at them, and every time I see them I reiterate this fact. My Mom can be a little gullible, and almost got caught up in a scam once (before she figured out what was going on). Since that time she’s become a lot more suspicious and aware.

My in-laws got taken by a scammer for quite a bit of $’s. They are now very embarrassed about it. They got taken via a call to their landline, and the scam occurred over the course of several days. We were shocked when we heard about and couldn’t believe that at some point they didn’t question what was going on (or at least call us to ask for guidance). Unfortunately, their generation is very trusting, and the scammers played on their emotions. I think they learned their lesson, however still have a landline (which I’ve strongly recommended they get rid of), along with individual cell phones. My suggestion to them is to never answer their phone unless they recognize the number, and simply let it go to voicemail. It’s hit or miss on this with them.
I don’t know how old your in-laws are.

But I am only a few years younger than the OP’s MIL and it is not true that my “generation is very trusting.”

Yes, sometimes we elders lose cognitive ability. But there are naive, ill-informed, and vulnerable people in every age group. I firmly believe that a lot of people who get scammed at 75 would have gotten scammed at 40 or 50 too.
Exactly what I thought as I read this. Also, we never answer the phone unless we recognize the caller ID. We let it go to voice mail.
miket29
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Re: Worried about older family member getting scammed

Post by miket29 »

rdb404 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:21 am My mother-in-law is a 73 year old widow who's comfortably retired. She's seemed of sound judgment, but yesterday, she fell hard for a tech support scammer. She stayed on the call for 4 hours, giving the scammer her bank account information, buying bitcoin, and even driving to the grocery store to buy gift cards.
Be sure to find out if she was using her computer while on the call. I read a post on a different blog that started with a phone call but the scammers ended up installing all kinds of spyware on the victims computer. If she clicked on any links or, worse, allowed remote control of her computer, then I'd consider that computer hopelessly compromised (meaning email for account recovery, online banking, etc is now possibly under the control of the spammers)
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