October is the season for spookiness, but none of Halloween’s haunts holds a candle to the frightening reality of the latest senior scams. Older adults have long been the target of scammers, who prey on their perceived vulnerability and loneliness. Yet technology is making scams more complex, and it can be difficult for even the savviest person to recognize their deception.
The Grandparent Scam, AI Style
The grandparent scam is nothing new. An older adult would receive a call from a person claiming to be a relative in need of immediate financial help for an emergency they were facing. The voice, manner of speaking, and telephone number could often give away the caller’s malintent.
Enter AI. Scammers can now use technology to clone a person’s voice, using just a few seconds 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 stunningly 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 chooses.
So a grandparent answers the telephone, recognizes the phone number as that of his granddaughter, and hears her frantic voice begging for money to help her in an emergency. How should such a scenario be handled?
Tips to Thwart a Thief
Following these steps will help protect the older adults you love from AI scams:
- Agree on a family password. Establish a word that everyone in your family can easily remember, but which will be hard for someone outside of your circle to guess. If a person calls claiming to be a family member in crisis, ask for the secret code word.
- Call back. In a genuine emergency, a family member might not remember the code word. As another way to verify the caller’s identity, always hang up the phone and call the person right back.
- Talk about it. Explain the details surrounding the newest AI scams to your older family members so they are familiar with what to anticipate. Make certain everyone realizes that just because caller ID shows a familiar phone number, it does not mean the call is actually from that number. This pertains to businesses as well as personal contacts.
- Be cautious about clicking. Scammers may also send an email that appears to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or retail business the person uses regularly. These emails can be extremely difficult to distinguish from authentic emails from a business. A good practice is to never click on an emailed link, but to go right to an organization’s website through a browser.
Immediately Report All Scams
Grace Home Care Is Here to Help Keep Older Adults Safe From Scams
Home care is a great way to add an additional level of protection and safety for older adults. Our caregivers provide the companionship needed to defend against isolation and loneliness – key factors scammers are looking for in their targets.