A man on the phone discusses how to stay safe from older adult scams.

October is the season for spookiness, but none of Halloween’s haunts holds a candle to the frightening reality of the latest older adult scams. Older adults have long been the target of scammers, who prey on their perceived loneliness and vulnerability. Yet technology is taking their efforts to a whole new level, making it problematic for even the savviest individual to recognize their deception.

The Grandparent Scam, AI Style

The grandparent scam has been around for decades. An older adult would receive a call from someone claiming to be a family member needing immediate financial help for a crisis they were facing. The voice, manner of speaking, and telephone number could often give away the caller’s malintent.

Enter AI. Scammers can now utilize technology to clone a person’s voice, using just a snippet of audio pulled from social media such as TikTok or Instagram. The cloning software allows the individual to type whatever text they want the voice to say, and the end result is a startlingly authentic replica of the person’s actual voice.

To further compound the difficulty with detecting the scam, calls can now seem to originate from any number the scammer selects.

So a grandparent answers the phone, recognizes the phone number as that of his grandchild, and hears her frantic voice urgently requesting money to help her in an emergency. How should such a scenario be handled?

Strategies to Thwart Older Adult Scams

Following these steps can help protect the older adults you love from AI scams:

  • Talk about it. Explain the details surrounding the newest AI scams to your older family members so they are aware of what to anticipate. Make sure everyone understands that just because caller ID shows a familiar phone number, it does not mean the call is really from that number. This pertains to personal contacts as well as businesses.
  • Agree on a family password. Establish a word that everybody in your family can quickly remember, but which will be hard for someone outside of your circle to guess. If someone calls claiming to be a family member in crisis, ask for the secret code word.
  • Call back. In a true emergency, a family member may not remember the code word. As another means to confirm the caller’s identity, always hang up and call the person right back.
  • Be cautious about clicking. Scammers may also send an email that appears to be from a legitimate source, such as a retail business or bank the person uses regularly. These emails are exceedingly hard to distinguish from authentic emails from a business. A smart practice is to never click on an emailed link, but to go directly to an organization’s website through a browser.

Report All Scams Immediately

If you or someone you love has been targeted by any kind of scam, contact law enforcement as well as the Federal Trade Commission.

Compassionate Nursing Services Is Here to Keep Older Adults Safe From Scams

Home care is an excellent way to add an additional level of safety and protection for older adults. Our caregivers provide the companionship needed to defend against isolation and loneliness—key factors scammers are looking for in their targets.

Call us at 314-432-4312 or contact us online for more information on our in-home care in Clayton, Des Peres, Oakville, and the surrounding areas can help a person you love remain secure and safe while living life to the fullest.