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

Episode · 11 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 follow your dreams at any age. My grandmother's journey with dementia ignited a passion in me to work with seniors. I've spent the past thirteen years learning about seniors and aging. In my mid S, I followed my own dream and found it my company, where I use my expertise to help seniors locate housing and resources. On this podcast we cover all aspects of aging. Joanna's each week to meet senior living experts and inspirational seniors who are following their dreams. The fact is, we're all aging, so why not do it in style? Hi, guys, welcome back to another episode of aging in style with Laurie Williams. Today we're going to talk about fraud and seniors and how to protect themselves from identity theft, and I wanted to do this podcast because my own stepfather was an almost victim of a scam last week. So what happened was he called me. He's in Mississippi and, as most of Y'all know, I'm in Texas and he called and said, Hey, I just had a call from Chris, my son, and he said he said kind of sounded like him, I can really tell you. was kind of talking low and he said Hi, GRANDPA, I'm in jail. I was in a wreck as a Dui. My lip is bleeding. Can you call my lawyer? So my stepfather was confused by this because he's like, why are you calling me? 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 because the guy just kept saying call my lawyer. And and he called me and he said Hey, I just had this odd call. Is Chris Okay? And I went checked on my son. Is car was out front. He was in bed asleep. I'm like, well, it's definitely a scam. So that kind of shook me. It shook him a bit too, and made me realize, you know, we really need to do a show about identity theft and scams, and especially those that target the elderly. So today we have the perfect guest for that and we have Dana Mentila. She is the founder of identity protection planning. Her Company helps folks protect themselves, their families and their businesses from identity thieves, scammers and cyber criminals. She's certified and risk mitigation with Harvard University. She's a certified identity protection advisor with the Identity Management Institute and a certified Parents Speaker with digital future initiatives. Identity Protection Planning developed identity protection plans that monitor credit activity, change of address and dark web scans for personal information, and Dana Post daily protection advice content on social media and has had over two point five million views of her material. Her personal goal for two thousand and twenty one is to help twenty fivezero people better protect 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 share to help protect our seniors and protect anyone...

...actually. Well, thank you for having me. And regarding that story that you just shared, that's a very popular scam and one of the goals that I have is to help spread the word 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 in Dire strace and they need help. I can help them. So what do I need? To Do, and those are very good signs of a scam. To is, if we sit back for one second, which sometimes it's hard because, let you're in that Suay shift, but if we can sit back and we can say okay, scams usually playoff of two things. You're playing off of the emotion that all, my goodness, this is my poor grandson, I need to help, and then the urgency is that it has to happen right now, because an accident, because someone's in jail, because something crazy has happened, and those are always good signs whenever you're kind of anileduaction, if it's a scam, and I always tell people, if you just sit back for one minute and say to yourself, why does something have to happen right now? How many things in our lives really have to happen right now? You have to do it right now. You can't sit back and 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 and saying, I don't know, this is this is not something I should be doing. But when you're just going, going, going, acting, acting, acting, they pull off the scam and before you actually even had time to sit back and think about it. They're playing on the emotions and that urgency, getting them all worked up thinking, oh my gosh, my poor grandchild is in trouble, and they just don't even have time to think about it 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 calls like, for example, charities. So some of these scammeras will call up on 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 another company 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 think about this. So anytime somebody you're in a situation like that, you need to say, you know what, I'm sorry, but I really want to give this some thought and if I do decide I'd like to donate to this charity, I certainly will, you know, send my money in giving somebody a credit card over the phone you don't know. That's just calling or any kind of personal information is definitely not a good idea. And a great website to go to if you are interested in donating for a charity is charity navigator Dot Org. You can type in what the charity is and not only will it tell you if it's a legitimate one, it will also tell you what percentage of your donation is actually going to the cause, because some of these charities, by the time the actual cause it gets down, there's so much other, you know, fat in there that not much is really getting to the actual thing that you're you know, we wanted your money to go to it. 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 that are calling and they're asking for personal information regarding, you know, your Medicare number, 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 someone you should be, you know, offering information to and the big thing is that 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 goals is 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 I just want to let you know if somebody calls blah, Blah Blah. Same thing with the kids. You know the kids, they don't know these things and sometimes they fall victim. They're online seven, so they have a totally different perception of reality than we do. We didn't grow up with all these devices and connected to people all the time. So they take a lot for granted or 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 of seniors 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 careful because unfortunately, there are some very bad people up there that try to take advantage of people with this, these romance scams. So they will quickly develop a relationship. You know, they use a lot of pet names as opposed to your actual name, honey, sweetie, because they're doing this with a lot of different people, and one of the telltale signs that this is going on is if the relationship seems to be progressing very, very quickly. You know, 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 is establish 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 they need to borrow some money. Just want you to you know, if you could help me out here, that'd be great, of course. Oh, I would do anything for you. Of course I'll help you out. And so, you know, they send them money and then they're never to be seen again. That's something to be careful of. Yeah, so they're really playing on the loneliness of a senior maybe, you know, like they want a romance. They've lost their loved one and that's, you know, their spouse. And so again, it's all emotions, really playing on their emotions, isn't it? Hmm, absolutely, and another thing too. This is going to sound crazy, but this actually does happen with some of these romance scams, is they turn these poor victims into assistance in money laundering. So what they'll do is they'll say, Hey, can you do me a big favor and I'm going to send you some of this money and can you just put it in your account and then wire it to, you know, one of my other accounts and you know what for I'll give you a couple hundred dollars just for helping me. I really appreciate this. And you think, okay, well, what's the big deal? Is just sending me money and then I'm putting it in my account and...

...sending it to someone else. But what you're basically doing for the person is you're cleaning the money. This is dirty money, drug money, human trafficking money, who knows what kind of money, but bad that dirty money that you're now taking into the US banking system 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, if you're ever found involved in these things, you you are going to be held responsible. You can't just say well, I didn't realize that this is what was 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. I know I always feel like I'd like the grim reaper whenever I'm talking about all this stuff and I hate to be so negative and about all this, but I just we have to start these conversations because if we can start them and they one person can tell five people and then those five people go tell another five people and the message spreads very quickly. The reason why I even started doing all of this was my company came out with a product which you had mentioned earlier. It's called identron and what it does is it monitors or credit activity and dark web scans. You change it address and you get alerts anytime there's something going on, you know, either on your phone or on your email. So after I developed this, this is several years ago, I started to realize how much education is really really needed out there in this whole cyber 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 to youtube 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 to make 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 throw on some humor and my goal is that hopefully this person, if they're ever in this situation that I'm talking about, they're going to remember, like I did a grandparents scam video and I dressed up as a grandma and I have my, you know, my white curly hair wig and my glasses and I'm pretending 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, but the whole thing obviously is not funny. But my hope is that someone's going to remember if they ever get a phone call from the exact a little grandson in a Mexican jail, well, we'll find your youtube video and will post that for everyone to see it too. So I could ask pats. Recently, with the gentleman who shares my passion for seniors. His name is Jimmy Solo and he shared with me that after both of his grandparents had moved into a senior care community, his family's world was just turned upside down as they became caregivers overnight. As you know, being a caregiver to someone close to you is often overwhelming and there's just so much for you to manage, even with the support of living in a senior care community, like making sure your loved one has all the products they need and keeping them stocked when stuff runs out. Well, Jimmy had that problem too, and he was scrolling through all of these product reviews across the Internet...

...and, like most of us in the sandwich generation, we don't have enough hours in the day, so it can end up being way too time consuming and frustrating. He wish there was a simpler way to shop for his grandparents. And then, of course, the pandemic head which prevented visitation to the communities, making this process even more difficult. 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 trees that can be automatically reordered in tech that makes caregiving easier. And what I love, and I know y'all would love this too, is that each and every product on Joe and Bella has been carefully selected by caregiving experts. Jimmy is giving us an exclusive offer for the listeners of this podcast. You can use Promo codes style to receive ten percent off your first purchase at Joe and Bellacom. 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 the emotion. What are some other like red flags that they should be aware of? Well, I think anything outside of your normal routine has to be questioned. Why is all of a sudden this person involved into my life or contacting 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 are not going to call you, text you or send you an email. The only way the government agencies are going to contact you is going to be the United 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 intimidating on the phone. Their call up, they pretend that they're calling from social security and then you're going to bail because your number got out there, something like that. So that's something to remember, that they are not going to call and sometimes they actually spoof the phone number so it looks like it's called is coming from, you know, the irs or social security. So that's another thing too, is don't believe the call or ID because there's tricks around that. Yeah, they're pretty tricky. Yeah, they are. They're very creative. And okay, if let's talk about email for a second. You know, back in the day it used to be this misspelled text message you get from a Nigerian prince about sending you millions of dollars. Right of we all 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 they look 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. So you see something about a delivery notification or you need to update your payment information and you click right on it and now you're going somewhere that you shouldn't be going and you don't even realize it. The one word of advice I say with 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's from Amazon, do not click through the email. Go to Amazon and look at your account and see if whatever this request is that they're saying an email is actually something that Amazon need you to do. HMM, that's a good tip 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 on facebook, more facebook than in the other social media, but there's ways that they need to be protected there as well, and I know it happens all the time, as I have a lot of senior friends who are on facebook that I've, you know, met through the senior industry and all of a sudden you know, I know they're friends and then I'll get a new request that 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, on Social 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, he should go into your settings and review your privacy settings. You go into the facebook privacy settings, you're going to be shocked at how many different options that there are that you can choose. So go through your privacy settings. And another thing would probably more relative, is how this is happening, that many, many, many people are using the same email and the same password for all of their different accounts. Okay, so emails, the same, passwords the same. They're going to bank America, they're going to facebook, they're going to 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 data breach, email and password that's keys to your kingdom. Now someone can literally take 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, Noale and 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 now they got the Grub of information that your facebook, log in the facebook and they 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, or at least a different a password to your logins. And where you can go to see if you're emails and involved in better breach is a website called have I been honed? It's P W a edcom and you can tell if your emails been involved data reach, exactly which debt was. And I suggest if your email is old, if you've had it for a long time, and you go there and find out that it's been involved a data reach, it's time for a new email address. Okay, good point, something I would suggest. Another thing too with Gmail is you know, maybe a million years ago 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't do anything crazy, so care for anybody...

...gets in there. But when you're in Google, Google doesn't like when you're not logged in. So when you're on a device, it's always if you're not logged in, it's asking you you need to log in. Would you like to log in? So logged in eitherr phone or on your desktop. Basically it's the same account. That's happening. If someone can get in there, meaning they know what your Gmail address is and your Gmail Password is. In the upper round hand corner there are three dots and Google and if you click on them it will bring you right into and show you the payment information that stored in your account, your passwords to all of the accounts that you go to, all the websites you go to, and one somebody has that, they pretty much can take over your whole activity. So if change one password today, I would suggest to me 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 social security 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 went and did it myself so I could see what the experience was going to be like. It literally in two minutes. But you just need to have your driver's license and your cell phone with you, because you take a picture of your driver's license and then you scan it and send it. They send you a spist number, then you put it into the account and boom, you're all set. So when you get in there, the reason why it's very important to claim this information before someone else claims your information, is we think about your social security, what you've earned, what your spouse has earned, what your potential income would be at a retired age. And one of the most 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 have a form of identification that they can use an identity the but love to get their hands on that. So that's something that I know it's a nice service that they're offering, but that's something you don't want someone to being able to get 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 into my account. They're saying that there's there's a situation, meaning that somebody else was 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 you choose our product or another product that's monitoring credit activity, but with one there's all three of the credit bureaus, and here's why. So let's say you have 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 alert that 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 car or whatever, then information is going to fall onto your credit report. But we're looking for the we want to go right away that something is going on with our credit activity. So that's something to keep in mind if you're going to 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 a car with their information and you find out there's someone you know has is using your name, your information, what happens with that? I mean, I'm sure it's like a hassle to get your credit cleaned up again, but what what happens with something like that? Well, in a situation like that, obviously the first question is, who do you call? People you'll meet message me all the time. This happened. What should I do now? And if you don't have a credit mattering service going on, and you'd find this sometimes by accident. A lot of times people find out when they go to get a loan or they go to buy a car, the prezil what's what all this other stuff on here and like, what are you talking about? So anyway, 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 will not be held responsible for a lot of this stuff. If you have an idea monitoring program like ours, then you have we have a AIG million dollar insurance. It's going to help for any of these expenses. But so it's a miss number one to unrevel and then you may be held financially responsible for suff of the stuff. One of the things that happens with kids is synthetic identity. So somebody takes real child so so security number and creates a fake guy really and they can use that synthetic identity for years and years and years and then build the credit and then just dump the day and that four kid is prommed out until maybe he's eighteen. Min Or college loan and then it's like, 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 for free. If you'd want to do a DIY program. You can do annual credit 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 when there 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 say yeah, something, yeah, something is better than nothing. I always said exactly 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. They come up with these scams and it's like, why can't they use that for good, you know, because they must say did. Yeah, world would 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 sharing your knowledge and we will have links to... to I'm going to find some of 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. Thank you so much for having me. Absolutely and all of the information will be on 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 to help. Thanks so much for listening and we'll talk to you next week about.

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