In today’s world, if you do not own a cellphone, tablet, or laptop computer you are definitely in the minority. Most of us spend a decedent amount of time on various social media platforms. For grandparents, communicating with the grandkids often requires the use of social media. This presents a very real risk for seniors. Scam artists and other predators who prey on older victims specifically target older victims through social media. The Indianapolis elder law attorneys at Frank & Kraft social media and the risk to your elderly loved ones.
Social Media Risks for Older Americans
Anyone over the age of about 40 did not grow up with the omnipresence of social media. Consequently, they have had to learn the basics involved in navigating social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, and Instagram. This makes them vulnerable to scam artists who troll social media. Scams that specifically target the elderly are numerous and new ones are invented on a regular basis.
A common scam that targets seniors is known as the “Granny Scam” because it preys on grandparents and their inherent desire and willingness to help a grandchild. In the Granny Scam, a perpetrator calls a senior and pretends to be the victim’s grandchild who is in trouble and needs a specific amount of money. The money might allegedly be to get out of jail, get a vehicle fixed, or replace money stolen from a purse. Often, the perpetrator gathers critical information about the target from social media before making the call. A single Facebook post, for instance, can provide a scammer with a wealth of information about the family dynamics. When the perpetrator makes the call, he/she may already know the grandchild’s name, the school he/she attends, parents and siblings’ names, the name of his/her significant other, and even details about a recent vacation or major achievement. The reality is that most seniors don’t think twice about what they post, nor do they fully understand social media privacy settings, making all that information available to any and all who wish to look for it.
How to Protect Your Older Loved Ones
If you have older loved ones who use social media, there are some “rules” you can provide them with to help protect them and prevent them from becoming a victim.
- Understand and use privacy settings. If you learn nothing more this year, learn how social media privacy settings work. Make sure your settings aren’t set to “public” which allows anyone to see your posts. Do this once a month to ensure that they have not been changed or reset inadvertently – or ask your grandchild to do it for you.
- Less is always more. Even if your privacy settings are set correctly, share sparingly. A single “share” by the wrong person, whose settings are not set on private, could completely negate all your efforts to keep your posts private.
- It’s O.K. to ignore friend requests. Seniors are particularly worried about being rude and tend to accept all friend requests as a result. This is not the time to worry about social graces. Do not accept friend requests unless you are certain you know the person making the request.
- Demand proof when asked for anything. If you get a call claiming someone is in trouble, ask for proof of the caller’s identity and the situation. Get a number to call back and do some fact checking.
- Create a family codeword. This should be a requirement in every family. Moreover, it works for all kinds of situations – not just elderly scams — and is a very simple way to verify the legitimacy of a situation that involves a family member.
Contact Indianapolis Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about social media and your elderly loved ones, contact the experienced Indianapolis elder law attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.