Whether you call them Fraudsters, Spammers, or Con Artists, unfortunately there are a lot of people out there who rely upon manipulation to get what they want. They’ll pop up in your inbox, in a call from an unknown number, or at your front door with lies, fast-talking and other scare tactics.
Combat this by remembering the SAT method: Skeptical-Assertive-Terminate.
- Be skeptical of anything a stranger says, especially anything that sounds too good to be true or anything that plays on your emotions.
- Be assertive throughout the encounter. Refuse to answer questions you don’t want to answer and ask questions that you want answered.
- Be ready to terminate the conversation at any time. If your inner voice starts having doubts, listen to it. You have every right to walk away.
Keep Your Personal Information Personal
Treat your personal information (such as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, etc.) as you would a valuable possession. You wouldn’t give a stranger an expensive piece of jewelry if they asked, right? Think of your personal information the same way.
Never give a stranger money upfront for any reason, no matter how much they pressure you. The same goes for access to banking information and credit or debit card information.
Remember the “T” in the SAT method: If something doesn’t feel right, terminate the conversation immediately.
Fraud in the Mailbox
Even in our digital age, “snail mail” remains a major source of elder fraud. Some signs of a possible scam are letter or postcards that:
- Say you have won a contest, prize, or an offer that feels too good to be true.
- Request you call a phone number and provide personal information.
- Resemble a government document but is not.
When in doubt, always have someone you trust take a look at it.
Stranger at the Door
If a stranger comes to your home, do not open the door to them. Ask what they need through the door. If you are satisfied with the response ask them to leave their business card at the door and tell them that you will contact them later if necessary. If their response is not satisfactory to you, or they don’t want to leave a business card, end the conversation and tell them to leave.
Ideally, you should never answer a call from a number you don’t recognize.
If you do answer a phone call and you realize a stranger is on the other line, immediately ask the following:
- how the caller got your number
- what their name is
- their ID number or employee number
- a phone number you can call back if this call is disconnected.
Make clear that you are writing down their answers. If the caller cannot answer all of these questions, end the call immediately.
Internet fraud is, sadly, a massive global industry. It comes in many varieties, but a few rules will help protect you from most kinds:
Whenever possible, only use trusted web sites.
Double-check the URL (the website address in the search engine box). A lot of scamming websites can look like an official page, but if you check the URL, you’ll find you’re not where you thought you were. When using a web site new to you, proceed with caution.
Never give anyone your passwords. This includes passcodes, PIN numbers and other information you use to access email and Internet sites.
Don’t reply to unexpected emails. Strange emails can come from out-of-the-blue asking for your personal information. Do not reply or click on links, even if the email looks like it comes from a business or person familiar to you.
Beware of “pop-up” boxes. Be very careful with chat boxes that appear on unfamiliar web sites. Fraudsters can obtain personal information from you by asking numerous questions to “help” you. Only use these on trusted web sites.
Imagine it’s always public. Be especially careful on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. Do not post any confidential information on these sites, even if you think only your “friends” will see it. Always assume that whatever you post on the Internet may become public at some point in the future.
Check Twice, Click Once
Those who sew always say “Measure Twice, Cut Once” and the same goes for protecting yourself from fraud. Never be afraid to ask a trusted friend to look over something, whether it’s a piece of mail or an email you received. When it comes to this, two heads are always better than one.