Aging in Style with Lori Williams
Aging in Style with Lori Williams

Episode · 7 months ago

044. How seniors can protect themselves against identity theft and online scams


Dana Mantilia realized how critical it is for people to learn about cybercriminals, identity thieves and scammers while creating her identity protection company. 

Criminals often prey upon seniors in particular by playing on their emotions and loneliness, creating a sense of urgency to get them to act fast. That’s why it’s important to have conversations with seniors who aren’t as knowledgeable about the pitfalls of technology so they’re aware of the risks and keep their personal information secure.

This week Dana joins Senior Services Expert Lori Williams to discuss the top tactics cyber criminals use. She shares common red flags to look out for, so you can spot an attempt when it’s happening. With her protection tips gaining more than 2.5 million views on social media, her advice is useful for people of all ages to prevent identity theft and avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

Topics discussed:
- Senior scams
- Identity theft
- Data breaches
- Credit monitoring
- Phone and email scammers
- Money laundering
- Cybersecurity

Takeaways from this episode:
- Scams tend to play off of emotions and urgency so you don’t have time to stop to consider the likelihood of their claims being false. Realize that in real life most requests don’t have to happen immediately, so don’t rush to pay anyone.
- Common phone scams include pretending to be a relative that needs money to get out of jail, people from “Medicare” asking for personal information, and “charities” needing donations.
- Use to check if a charity is legitimate.
- Never give out your personal information on the phone. Government agencies will reach out to you through the mail, not phone.
- People will take advantage of seniors on dating sites by quickly escalating a relationship and asking for money.
- Don’t transfer money from your account to a stranger's because it could be a money-laundering scheme and you could be held liable.- Review your privacy settings on Facebook.
- Use different passwords for everything so if your login details are stolen for one account, your others aren’t immediately compromised.
- Be sure to check your Google / Gmail password because your account often stores payment information to all the websites you visit.

Resources mentioned in this episode:
To connect to Dana and learn more about her Identity Protection Business:

To claim your online social security account:
To verify a charity's work before donating:
To find out if your email address has been part of a data breach:
Mexican prison scam video:

To suggest a topic, be a guest or to support the podcast please email:
For more senior resources and to sign up to the newsletter please visit:

Welcome to aging in style with me, Laurie Williams. I'm an optimist by nature and I believe you can followyour dreams at any age. My grandmother's journey with dementia ignited a passion inme to work with seniors. I've spent the past thirteen years learning about seniorsand aging. In my mid S, I followed my own dream and foundit my company, where I use my expertise to help seniors locate housing andresources. On this podcast we cover all aspects of aging. Joanna's each weekto meet senior living experts and inspirational seniors who are following their dreams. Thefact is, we're all aging, so why not do it in style?Hi, guys, welcome back to another episode of aging in style with LaurieWilliams. Today we're going to talk about fraud and seniors and how to protectthemselves from identity theft, and I wanted to do this podcast because my ownstepfather was an almost victim of a scam last week. So what happened washe called me. He's in Mississippi and, as most of Y'all know, I'min Texas and he called and said, Hey, I just had a callfrom Chris, my son, and he said he said kind of soundedlike him, I can really tell you. was kind of talking low and hesaid Hi, GRANDPA, I'm in jail. I was in a wreckas a Dui. My lip is bleeding. Can you call my lawyer? Somy stepfather was confused by this because he's like, why are you callingme? And so he kept questioning him and he said call your mom,just call your mom, and so finally he just hung up on him becausethe guy just kept saying call my lawyer. And and he called me and hesaid Hey, I just had this odd call. Is Chris Okay?And I went checked on my son. Is car was out front. Hewas in bed asleep. I'm like, well, it's definitely a scam.So that kind of shook me. It shook him a bit too, andmade me realize, you know, we really need to do a show aboutidentity theft and scams, and especially those that target the elderly. So todaywe have the perfect guest for that and we have Dana Mentila. She isthe founder of identity protection planning. Her Company helps folks protect themselves, theirfamilies and their businesses from identity thieves, scammers and cyber criminals. She's certifiedand risk mitigation with Harvard University. She's a certified identity protection advisor with theIdentity Management Institute and a certified Parents Speaker with digital future initiatives. Identity ProtectionPlanning developed identity protection plans that monitor credit activity, change of address and darkweb scans for personal information, and Dana Post daily protection advice content on socialmedia and has had over two point five million views of her material. Herpersonal goal for two thousand and twenty one is to help twenty fivezero people betterprotect themselves with the advice from her protection tip posts. So thank you,Dana, for joining us and I'm excited to hear what you have to shareto help protect our seniors and protect anyone...

...actually. Well, thank you forhaving me. And regarding that story that you just shared, that's a verypopular scam and one of the goals that I have is to help spread theword about that scam because it's very rattling when someone who gets that message right. You're thinking, oh no, my grandson, my granddaughter, someone's inDire strace and they need help. I can help them. So what doI need? To Do, and those are very good signs of a scam. To is, if we sit back for one second, which sometimes it'shard because, let you're in that Suay shift, but if we can sitback and we can say okay, scams usually playoff of two things. You'replaying off of the emotion that all, my goodness, this is my poorgrandson, I need to help, and then the urgency is that it hasto happen right now, because an accident, because someone's in jail, because somethingcrazy has happened, and those are always good signs whenever you're kind ofanileduaction, if it's a scam, and I always tell people, if youjust sit back for one minute and say to yourself, why does something haveto happen right now? How many things in our lives really have to happenright now? You have to do it right now. You can't sit backand think about it, because that's what they don't want you to do,because if you did have an opportunity to sit back and think, HMM,this is a little bit weird, then you know your rationale starts kicking andsaying, I don't know, this is this is not something I should bedoing. But when you're just going, going, going, acting, acting, acting, they pull off the scam and before you actually even had timeto sit back and think about it. They're playing on the emotions and thaturgency, getting them all worked up thinking, oh my gosh, my poor grandchildis in trouble, and they just don't even have time to think aboutit because they're pushing them. So it's all like an emotional thing. Yeah, exactly, exactly. And sometimes these happen even with other types scam callslike, for example, charities. So some of these scammeras will call upon the phone and they're asking for a donation for a charity and they'll say, well, we really need to get this done right now because there's anothercompany that's going to match whatever you donate and so let's get this process now, even if the person says, I really would like a minute to thinkabout this. So anytime somebody you're in a situation like that, you needto say, you know what, I'm sorry, but I really want togive this some thought and if I do decide I'd like to donate to thischarity, I certainly will, you know, send my money in giving somebody acredit card over the phone you don't know. That's just calling or anykind of personal information is definitely not a good idea. And a great websiteto go to if you are interested in donating for a charity is charity navigatorDot Org. You can type in what the charity is and not only willit tell you if it's a legitimate one, it will also tell you what percentageof your donation is actually going to the cause, because some of thesecharities, by the time the actual cause it gets down, there's so muchother, you know, fat in there that not much is really getting tothe actual thing that you're you know, we wanted your money to go toit. So that's a good website to check, charity navigator Dot Org.As far as those kind of scammed go.

The phone scams one thing too,especially with the seniors, is especially around Medicare season, is people thatare calling and they're asking for personal information regarding, you know, your Medicarenumber, your social security number. We should never, ever, ever,ever, be giving out any kind of personal information over the phone to someone, even if they identify themselves as, you know, and authority or someoneyou should be, you know, offering information to and the big thing isthat the more we talk about these things with our parents, with our kids, the better educated everybody is. So what that's one of my big goalsis to start these conversations so that people go home and they call their mother, their father and they say, Hey, by the way, you know,you may never happen. Has Been Ever happened to you, but Ijust want to let you know if somebody calls blah, Blah Blah. Samething with the kids. You know the kids, they don't know these thingsand sometimes they fall victim. They're online seven, so they have a totallydifferent perception of reality than we do. We didn't grow up with all thesedevices and connected to people all the time. So they take a lot for grantedor they take people at face value that say who they are online,and that's not necessarily true. And speaking of online, there's a lot ofseniors that are online and doing online mating, and there's nothing necessarily wrong with this. This is a new party, but we have to be very carefulbecause unfortunately, there are some very bad people up there that try to takeadvantage of people with this, these romance scams. So they will quickly developa relationship. You know, they use a lot of pet names as opposedto your actual name, honey, sweetie, because they're doing this with a lotof different people, and one of the telltale signs that this is goingon is if the relationship seems to be progressing very, very quickly. Youknow, someone's telling you that they love you a couple weeks into the relationship, and little red flags like that, because what they're trying to do isestablish a relationship, you're communicating with them on a regular basis and then,Lo and behold, what winds up happening is some situation comes up where theyneed to borrow some money. Just want you to you know, if youcould help me out here, that'd be great, of course. Oh,I would do anything for you. Of course I'll help you out. Andso, you know, they send them money and then they're never to beseen again. That's something to be careful of. Yeah, so they're reallyplaying on the loneliness of a senior maybe, you know, like they want aromance. They've lost their loved one and that's, you know, theirspouse. And so again, it's all emotions, really playing on their emotions, isn't it? Hmm, absolutely, and another thing too. This isgoing to sound crazy, but this actually does happen with some of these romancescams, is they turn these poor victims into assistance in money laundering. Sowhat they'll do is they'll say, Hey, can you do me a big favorand I'm going to send you some of this money and can you justput it in your account and then wire it to, you know, oneof my other accounts and you know what for I'll give you a couple hundreddollars just for helping me. I really appreciate this. And you think,okay, well, what's the big deal? Is just sending me money and thenI'm putting it in my account and...

...sending it to someone else. Butwhat you're basically doing for the person is you're cleaning the money. This isdirty money, drug money, human trafficking money, who knows what kind ofmoney, but bad that dirty money that you're now taking into the US bankingsystem and when it goes through and now it comes out of your account,now it's clean money and the government won't question that money. However, ifyou're ever found involved in these things, you you are going to be heldresponsible. You can't just say well, I didn't realize that this is whatwas going on. So that's nothing too. Don't ever move money for somebody that. That's kind of terrifying. It's a good tip to know. Iknow I always feel like I'd like the grim reaper whenever I'm talking about allthis stuff and I hate to be so negative and about all this, butI just we have to start these conversations because if we can start them andthey one person can tell five people and then those five people go tell anotherfive people and the message spreads very quickly. The reason why I even started doingall of this was my company came out with a product which you hadmentioned earlier. It's called identron and what it does is it monitors or creditactivity and dark web scans. You change it address and you get alerts anytimethere's something going on, you know, either on your phone or on youremail. So after I developed this, this is several years ago, Istarted to realize how much education is really really needed out there in this wholecyber criminals, identity thieves, scammers. So I started looking around to see, well, where can people learn about this, and there really wasn't anywhere. There was nothing. I googled and googled and Google, they went toyoutube and there really wasn't a lot out there. So that's when I said, well, I'm going to start to try to educate people and wanted tomake sure that each of my videos was very, very focused and nonintimidating,easy to understand for everybody. And then once in a while sometimes I throwon some humor and my goal is that hopefully this person, if they're everin this situation that I'm talking about, they're going to remember, like Idid a grandparents scam video and I dressed up as a grandma and I havemy, you know, my white curly hair wig and my glasses and I'mpretending that my grandson is calling from a Mexican prison. And so it's funny, but it's not funny because it's a funny spin on the situation, butthe whole thing obviously is not funny. But my hope is that someone's goingto remember if they ever get a phone call from the exact a little grandsonin a Mexican jail, well, we'll find your youtube video and will postthat for everyone to see it too. So I could ask pats. Recently, with the gentleman who shares my passion for seniors. His name is JimmySolo and he shared with me that after both of his grandparents had moved intoa senior care community, his family's world was just turned upside down as theybecame caregivers overnight. As you know, being a caregiver to someone close toyou is often overwhelming and there's just so much for you to manage, evenwith the support of living in a senior care community, like making sure yourloved one has all the products they need and keeping them stocked when stuff runsout. Well, Jimmy had that problem too, and he was scrolling throughall of these product reviews across the Internet...

...and, like most of us inthe sandwich generation, we don't have enough hours in the day, so itcan end up being way too time consuming and frustrating. He wish there wasa simpler way to shop for his grandparents. And then, of course, thepandemic head which prevented visitation to the communities, making this process even moredifficult. So Jimmy decide to launch his own business to solve this problem.He found it Joe and Bella, to make shopping for older adults simple.They carry everything from comfy clothes to creative gifts. They even have toilet treesthat can be automatically reordered in tech that makes caregiving easier. And what Ilove, and I know y'all would love this too, is that each andevery product on Joe and Bella has been carefully selected by caregiving experts. Jimmyis giving us an exclusive offer for the listeners of this podcast. You canuse Promo codes style to receive ten percent off your first purchase at Joe andBellacom. That's code style style for ten percent off at Joe and Bellacom.What would you say? So like? I mean red flags for seniors.Obviously it's going to be like that urgency, like you said, playing on theemotion. What are some other like red flags that they should be awareof? Well, I think anything outside of your normal routine has to bequestioned. Why is all of a sudden this person involved into my life orcontacting me or asking me for information? That's something red flag, something different. The other thing that we need to always remember is that government agencies arenot going to call you, text you or send you an email. Theonly way the government agencies are going to contact you is going to be theUnited States Postal Service. You're going to get a good old fashioned letter.So that's very important to remember because some of these people they get very intimidatingon the phone. Their call up, they pretend that they're calling from socialsecurity and then you're going to bail because your number got out there, somethinglike that. So that's something to remember, that they are not going to calland sometimes they actually spoof the phone number so it looks like it's calledis coming from, you know, the irs or social security. So that'sanother thing too, is don't believe the call or ID because there's tricks aroundthat. Yeah, they're pretty tricky. Yeah, they are. They're verycreative. And okay, if let's talk about email for a second. Youknow, back in the day it used to be this misspelled text message youget from a Nigerian prince about sending you millions of dollars. Right of weall picked up on that pretty quick. Yeah, it's probably not happening,not real. And so one of the things now is that these emails theylook really, really good. They look like they're from Fedex or Amazon,and you know a lot of online shopping is going on right now. Soyou see something about a delivery notification or you need to update your payment informationand you click right on it and now you're going somewhere that you shouldn't begoing and you don't even realize it. The one word of advice I saywith email is any time you get an email with a link in there,be it is Amazon or to Fedex or...

...whatever, don't click on the link. Go and open a new window in your computer, new window browser,and go to that account directly. So if it's if the email says it'sfrom Amazon, do not click through the email. Go to Amazon and lookat your account and see if whatever this request is that they're saying an emailis actually something that Amazon need you to do. HMM, that's a goodtip and I have received that Amazon email before. I've gotten that one.You know. Another thing is like I know a lot of seniors or onfacebook, more facebook than in the other social media, but there's ways thatthey need to be protected there as well, and I know it happens all thetime, as I have a lot of senior friends who are on facebookthat I've, you know, met through the senior industry and all of asudden you know, I know they're friends and then I'll get a new requestthat someone so wants to be your friends. So I know that they've been hacked. So what are some ways that they can be, say, onSocial Media, and not get hacked and where someone takes over their account,what are some things that they can do? It is a really one. So, with with facebook specifically, any any other social media platform, heshould go into your settings and review your privacy settings. You go into thefacebook privacy settings, you're going to be shocked at how many different options thatthere are that you can choose. So go through your privacy settings. Andanother thing would probably more relative, is how this is happening, that many, many, many people are using the same email and the same password forall of their different accounts. Okay, so emails, the same, passwordsthe same. They're going to bank America, they're going to facebook, they're goingto their credit card company. All the log and information is the same. So the problem is is that if that email was involved in a databreach, email and password that's keys to your kingdom. Now someone can literallytake that information and then they can go and they can log into here.Cantineer, and one example is grub hub. It's a small food delivery company.Right. They had data breach and they got the user names, Noaleand words and people that will what's the big deals for your email address?It really is a big deal for exactly what I just mentioned, that nowthey got the Grub of information that your facebook, log in the facebook andthey take over the account and they're either out sending in appropriate messages or,you know, trying to ask your friends for money and things along those lines. So make sure you have a different email and a different password, orat least a different a password to your logins. And where you can goto see if you're emails and involved in better breach is a website called haveI been honed? It's P W a edcom and you can tell if youremails been involved data reach, exactly which debt was. And I suggest ifyour email is old, if you've had it for a long time, andyou go there and find out that it's been involved a data reach, it'stime for a new email address. Okay, good point, something I would suggest. Another thing too with Gmail is you know, maybe a million yearsago you got a google account and you know, you think, well,what's the big deal? is just my my GM ount billy. I don'tdo anything crazy, so care for anybody...

...gets in there. But when you'rein Google, Google doesn't like when you're not logged in. So when you'reon a device, it's always if you're not logged in, it's asking youyou need to log in. Would you like to log in? So loggedin eitherr phone or on your desktop. Basically it's the same account. That'shappening. If someone can get in there, meaning they know what your Gmail addressis and your Gmail Password is. In the upper round hand corner thereare three dots and Google and if you click on them it will bring youright into and show you the payment information that stored in your account, yourpasswords to all of the accounts that you go to, all the websites yougo to, and one somebody has that, they pretty much can take over yourwhole activity. So if change one password today, I would suggest tome your Google pass okay, I'm going to do that. Thank you.That's pretty terrifying right there. Yeah, that one's a big one. Wow. Any other and tips for our senior listeners especially to protect themselves? Well, I do think that they should go online and they should claim their socialsecurity account. So there's a website, I believe it's my Ssa Dot Gov, that you go to and I did a video on this. I wentand did it myself so I could see what the experience was going to belike. It literally in two minutes. But you just need to have yourdriver's license and your cell phone with you, because you take a picture of yourdriver's license and then you scan it and send it. They send youa spist number, then you put it into the account and boom, you'reall set. So when you get in there, the reason why it's veryimportant to claim this information before someone else claims your information, is we thinkabout your social security, what you've earned, what your spouse has earned, whatyour potential income would be at a retired age. And one of themost disturbing things in there is you could also get a replacement social security card. So not only as someone now have your social security number, they havea form of identification that they can use an identity the but love to gettheir hands on that. So that's something that I know it's a nice servicethat they're offering, but that's something you don't want someone to being able toget their hands on as a second form of ID. HMM, okay,I'm not gonna check. Fine, not. Yeah, yeah, I know.aftery must a video. Several people contact he saying I can't get intomy account. They're saying that there's there's a situation, meaning that somebody elsewas already in there. So wow, that's that's a big one too.Obviously you can check out our product. That's a very good product, identron, and, like I mentioned, it monitors the credit activity and whether youchoose our product or another product that's monitoring credit activity, but with one there'sall three of the credit bureaus, and here's why. So let's say youhave Trans Union credit monitoring and identity thief goes under. They're using experience,so they're running the credit through experience. You're not going to get an alertthat that identity is using information because you're monitoring is with transunion. Now,eventually, if the person was able to...

...get a loan or buy a caror whatever, then information is going to fall onto your credit report. Butwe're looking for the we want to go right away that something is going onwith our credit activity. So that's something to keep in mind if you're goingto get credit monitoring the bureaus. Okay, what kind of recourse does someone have? I've always wondered this. If someone took out a loan on acar with their information and you find out there's someone you know has is usingyour name, your information, what happens with that? I mean, I'msure it's like a hassle to get your credit cleaned up again, but whatwhat happens with something like that? Well, in a situation like that, obviouslythe first question is, who do you call? People you'll meet messageme all the time. This happened. What should I do now? Andif you don't have a credit mattering service going on, and you'd find thissometimes by accident. A lot of times people find out when they go toget a loan or they go to buy a car, the prezil what's whatall this other stuff on here and like, what are you talking about? Soanyway, so you know, there's there are steps you can take.It's like a pause, taking apart and contacting the there's being with credit bureaus, letting them know this is not you and eventually, hopefully, you willnot be held responsible for a lot of this stuff. If you have anidea monitoring program like ours, then you have we have a AIG million dollarinsurance. It's going to help for any of these expenses. But so it'sa miss number one to unrevel and then you may be held financially responsible forsuff of the stuff. One of the things that happens with kids is syntheticidentity. So somebody takes real child so so security number and creates a fakeguy really and they can use that synthetic identity for years and years and yearsand then build the credit and then just dump the day and that four kidis prommed out until maybe he's eighteen. Min Or college loan and then it'slike, we'll wait a minute, what's all this? So it's really said. There's obviously an antian too, but you can also run your credit forfree. If you'd want to do a DIY program. You can do annualcredit report DOC and you can run your credit with each of the bureaus there. So maybe a good idea is to mark your calendar once the month whenthere and run a credit bureau make sure that everything that's on. There's nothing. You know, you're okay. So if you're not using credit monitoring,be sure you're doing it yourself and checking it at least monthly. You sayyeah, something, yeah, something is better than nothing. I always saidexactly anything we could possibly start doing is better than what we're doing right now. Well, I appreciate all these tips, as I'm sure our listeners will too. I often think, you know, these people are so clever. Theycome up with these scams and it's like, why can't they use thatfor good, you know, because they must say did. Yeah, worldwould be a much better place, that's for sure. It most certainly would. So. But thank you so much for being on the show and sharingyour knowledge and we will have links to... to I'm going to find someof your youtube videos you mentioned too, and I'll be posting those as well. But I really appreciate you coming on the show. No problem. Thankyou so much for having me. Absolutely and all of the information will beon my website, which is Lari Williams senior Servicescom and, as always,if you have any questions, just reach out to us and we're happy tohelp. Thanks so much for listening and we'll talk to you next week about.

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