Scammers often target seniors. Here are tips that can help you protect yourself, loved ones

One of my greatest purposes in life is to inform and empower seniors in our communities. In last month’s article, I began to touch on the clear and present danger of scams and frauds that are plaguing individuals but more often focusing on our seniors. In this sequel, I will elaborate further regarding this subject and provide information from two local experts who work tirelessly to stop the plans and schemes of scammers and fraudsters. Their combined experience and efforts will shed light on this situation.

Erin Batey is the chief communication innovation officer and senior vice president at Quail Creek Bank in Oklahoma City. She shared how Quail Creek Bank is working to inform and educate its customers about various scams and frauds that are sadly occurring daily. One of several scams they have encountered is when a scammer sends an email to the personal account of a target, posing as a company, such as Amazon or PayPal. The email contains information stating that the target has been issued a refund and should click on a link within the email that will direct them to log in to their account.

Unbeknownst to the target, clicking on the link provides the scammer access to the target’s account information. The scammer then steals the target’s log-in identification and password. In addition, Batey explained how the scammer takes this crime a step further by essentially “holding the victim at ransom,” demanding that they send the scammer a large sum of money. For example, they might demand $1,000 in cash or threaten that all funds in the victim’s bank account will be withdrawn. The victim is then instructed not to talk to anyone or face harsh consequences. Often, after such an incident, the victim is too embarrassed to admit being scammed.

This tactic plays right into the hands of the scammers, and it is crucial that the victim or any family member who is aware of the crime speak up. That’s the only way to keep these crimes in the light instead of the dark.

“This vicious cycle has to come to an end,” said Batey. She shared that Quail Creek Bank has developed a Fraud Awareness Department with 88 employees who have received special training in fraud detection and prevention. The bank’s website provides more information on common scams to avoid, tips to protect yourself and steps to take if you are a victim of fraud. Many banks now have staff or teams dedicated to fighting fraud. Quail Creek Bank has created a special membership called “Quail Classic Club” for their members who are 55+. This provides heightened assistance with accounts during travel, and current information regarding fraud awareness. Batey said one of the most important keys to stop scams and frauds is to call your bank or credit union to report suspicious contacts or requests for information or money.

Another bank that is actively helping seniors avoid scams and frauds is Valliance Bank of Oklahoma City. Alicia Wade is its president and chief operating officer and has 25 years of experience in the banking industry. Wade emphasized the importance of being careful about information you post online, such as your personal and financial information, especially on social media. “You never want to share this kind of information with someone you do not know in real life,” said Wade. Also, she touched on the importance of the banking relationship that a customer should have with their local bank. Wade explained certain questions seniors and other individuals should ask themselves before sharing their personal financial information.

1.  What relationship is appropriate to cause me to give someone money?

2.  Is this an appropriate question to ask for me to give someone money?

3.  Would I be comfortable asking for this request of money from someone else?

Wade stressed how important it is that banks take the time to develop trust with their customers, especially seniors. Often, seniors may have no one to trust, with very few family and friends available; therefore, striving to cultivate a closer banking relationship with seniors should be a banker’s goal. If necessary, they should be willing to make home visits for some banking transactions for customers who need it. The goal is to provide a safe and welcoming environment in which seniors feel free to call or go into the bank to talk to someone and lean on the bank’s expertise. Wade believes that this connection, communication and relationship between the customer and bank employees are essential for scam and fraud prevention.

A relationship with someone you trust is imperative to keep fraudsters and scammers from preying on the unsuspecting. With these insights and advice from local experts, I am hopeful that more seniors and their families are becoming aware of scams and frauds that are afflicting our communities. I am so thankful to know that there are many well-trained professionals who are working on the side of truth and justice to obstruct and ultimately prevent these crimes. Our involvement in assisting and empowering our seniors is essential to guarding their personal health, wealth and happiness.

Robin Gunn is the owner of The Oklahoma Senior Journal. She can be reached at 


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