“Haste makes waste” How many times have we all heard that old saying? I propose an updated version for scam prevention should be “Hurry should make you worry.”
Getting people to make a decision quickly is one of the oldest tools in the legitimate marketers’ toolbox. Don’t encourage people to think too long; they may decide not to buy your product or service. Rather, get them to spend now so you make the sale.
A similar principle applies in “scam world,” what I call the destructive alternative universe into which the scammers try to lure the unsuspecting. Many times the crooks try to get people to part with their money or information based on fear-driven urgency. For example, classic scams such as the “problem with your bank account/credit card” scam or the grandparent scam employ urgency: In the first, the victim had better click on the link in the phony email or call the phone number NOW to prevent further false charges from piling up. In the second, the senior’s poor grandchild is stuck in a terrible predicament out of the country and needs that money wired NOW!
Notice how in both examples the urgency tries to prevent the targeted elder from using what I call the 3rd R of scam prevention, “Reach out to check it out.” Taking your time to think and slowing down the movement from information to action allows for your inner “scam detector” to kick in and save you from a potentially devastating error. I always love it when a senior tells me in one of my presentations that he or she shut down the grandparent scam by calling the grandchild and talking to them directly. You should see the look of pride and victory on their face!
So here’s my challenge to you: Make it part of your scam prevention plan for 2015 to commit to always thinking before you act whenever you receive something questionable (if it asks for money or personal information) through any medium. And, if you’re the child of an elder parent or an eldercare professional, remind and reinforce this practice often.