Seniors, Cellphones and Danger

Seniors, Cellphones and Danger


Although seniors still use landlines more and more of them are using cell phones adding an additional risk to their daily lives and their personal information.


Cellphones and Personal Information:
Cellphone numbers are not legally protected like your Social Security number which, by law, must be kept private.  Most Americans now know how important it is to protect their Social Security number but they give their cellphone number to anyone who asks. This can be dangerous to anyone, but more dangerous to seniors.

The intelligence community believes that a cellphone number can be more useful than a Social Security number as it stores a lot of private information, is tied to numerous databases and is always with the owner.

Tips for usage:

  • Limit distribution of cell phone numbers only to those one knows well
  • Rarely provide cell phone numbers to any business;       exceptions could be those that have a good reason for having the number such as airlines for travel, utilities when there is a repair issue, etc.
  • Create strong passwords – children can help with this task
  • Adding anti-virus and security software to the cell phone – keep it up to date


Cellphones and Fraud:
Currently, most cellphone fraud is aimed at younger people, but there are a few that are directed toward seniors.  Below are the most common ones in use today.  Seniors need to be aware of them and know exactly what to do if called.

Just Say Yes?
Currently, this is the newest fraud that targets seniors.  It involves the user saying “yes” to the question from the caller.  The caller starts the conversation with a question – the most common question right now is “Can you hear me?”  Other questions that will generate a “yes” answer are: “Are you the homeowner”, “Are you the lady of the house”, “Do you pay your telephone bill?”

The caller records the “yes” then uses your answer to authorize charges on a phone or credit card.  In many cases fraudsters will play back the victim’s verbal confirmation and threaten to take legal action if they deny the charges.

What seniors should do?

  • Do not answer calls from numbers not recognized; let them go into voice mail
  • Do not answer questions over the phone
  • Do not confirm the phone number or anything else over the phone
  • Never give out personal information

If a senior has gotten and especially if they have responded to these calls, they should carefully monitor their credit cards.

Calls “testing” phones
Calls, texts or emails from an engineer from the provided telling the owner to key in 90# for a test of their cellphone.  A variation is a message that warns the owner cellphone companies will be releasing all mobile numbers to telemarketers and that to avoid this the owner needs to add their number to the “do not call list.”  Never respond to a request of this or similar nature.  If the senior wants to make sure they are doing the right thing, they should contact their cellphone provider who will know if they have engineers testing and likely will have a list of scams such as the “do not call list” one.


All cellphone owners have to be diligent when it comes to securing their information – but seniors must be even more diligent and often need help, especially with new technology.  Check with the seniors in your life to make certain they take all precautions and are aware of possible threats to their information.