If you’ve ever received worried phone calls like these from your parents; “We just got a voice message from the Canada Revenue Agency and they need to speak with us urgently! What should we do?” “We just got an email from our bank asking for our PIN. Why would they need that?”
You know the feelings of concern and protectiveness for your parents, and anger towards the jerks who perpetuate these scams. The sad part is that they do it because all-too-often, it works. Back in your parents’ day, there was no such thing as a phone or online scam, so their BS detectors aren’t quite as honed as those of younger generations. Unfortunately, it often falls on the adult children to protect their parents from online and phone scams. We know you’re busy already, so here are some tips on how to do that:
Enlighten Your Parents
Remember, they aren’t as savvy as you in recognizing something just isn’t right about that fishy phone call or email. Discuss with them that if the sender isn’t recognizable, they shouldn’t even open those emails. It’s harder to teach parents to excuse themselves as quickly as possible from phone calls, as they think it’s “rude” but ensuring they understand that the longer they’re on the phone, the higher the odds are of the caller succeeding in their fraudulent endeavor. Parents also need to be coached to only give access by phone to their computer if THEY initiated a customer service request, NEVER if a call comes in to them requesting such admittance.
Teach them to never click on a link from unknown sources, and sadly, even some known sources can be hacked, so best not to open anything with a link unless it can be scanned by an anti-virus or security application. Keep personal things private. Most of these scams ask for personal or financial information at some point. If your parents haven’t deleted the email received or shut down the call, stress to them repeatedly how important it is to NEVER disclose ANY information that the email or caller is asking to have. Even something that seems as innocent as their address could be used fraudulently, so make sure they are trained to say “No thank-you,” and hang up on callers early in the call, or simply delete emails asking for information.
If they really feel a call or email is legitimate, explain to your parents to call the person, organization or company back, but using the phone number your parents have for their connection to that particular organization. For example, if an email is received by their bank, they have the customer service phone number for their bank and can simply call there and ask why they received the email. Chances are, whomever they speak with will let them know the request wasn’t above board. Bank security does periodically call to protect day-to-day bank and credit cards, but to be safe, instruct parents to always call them back with their own phone number, not one provided by the caller.
Tighten Their Security
It’s not expensive to get the security call display offers so that your parents only have to answer phone calls from names and numbers they recognize. Most email servers have security settings that can be used to ensure almost all spam and scam gets dumped in the trash before it even hits your parents’ inbox. Ensure your parents have a good anti-virus on their computer(s) in the event they do open something sketchy.
Or any verification of personal information. The word “yes” can be recorded and used as proof of consent to fraudulent activity. If someone calls and uses your parents’ names, best for them to respond with “How can I help you?” or “Who is calling?” instead of “Yes?” so the caller either hangs up or gets to the point, and then your parents can be the ones who hang up and protect themselves from scams.
Check trusted government websites like the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre regularly, or remind your parents to do so. These sites often publish details of recent known scams to be on the lookout for and how to deal with them to avoid constant worry and stress that they might get swindled. It’s hard to anticipate every possible trick these crafty perpetrators might come up with, but with some diligence, you can protect your parents from online or phone scams.
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