While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind, being in regular contact with your family and close friends just might be the key to avoiding scams, frauds, and exploitation.
There are myriad reasons why connectivity is important when it comes to fraud, but ultimately it comes down to how it affects your mental health. When you stay in close contact with your family or your close friends, studies show that it will boost your mood and sense of purpose, improve your cognitive reserve, and ultimately keep you from becoming lonely.
When we are lonely, we become more willing to reach out for interaction and fall victim to people looking to exploit our most basic of needs – human contact. Did you know that a study in 2015 actually showed that loneliness even raised the risk of death by 26%? Given how devastating loneliness can be, it’s understandable that human connection can be an important factor in staying safe from fraud.
Loneliness Affects Fraud Susceptibility
Perhaps the biggest risk for fraud susceptibility is a combination of isolation and cognitive decline. And, in a classic Catch 22 scenario, isolation is a driver of cognitive decline and cognitive decline can cause people to isolate themselves.
When you remove yourself from your trusted circle of family and friends, you begin to reach for connection elsewhere. Potential scammers are able to lean into your life more easily, convincing you that they are here to help, when really they are reaching in to exploit you financially.
Simultaneously, you’re removing yourself from any system of checks and balances. While you may not feel like you are in a position where you need to share access to your financial accounts with your adult children or an advisor, there isn’t a person on the planet who is able to fully feel out a potential fraud without help. Allowing a trusted family member to check in on your accounts can help you stay safe from financial exploitation as they might notice a red flag behavior that didn’t seem obvious to you.
And of course, simply having people to speak to can help you stay alert. If you have family or friends to tell when you start dating a stranger from a website or when a concerning phone call came in from an unknown number, it will give you the support that you may need to avoid a dire situation.
Social Contact Improves Cognitive Reserve
A fantastic study was performed on over 10,000 individuals between 1985 and 2013 that took a look at the effects of social contact on their cognitive reserve over time and the results are just what we’re talking about here.
A greater frequency of social contact at age 60 years was associated with a lower risk of developing dementia and more frequent midlife social contact was associated with higher subsequent cognitive performance.
Logically speaking, the higher one’s cognitive performance, particularly as they age, the less susceptible they are to fraud, scams, or exploitations.
If you want to decrease your risk, and decrease your risk of cognitive decline, keep in regular touch with friends and family throughout your entire adult life, well into your later years.
Social Engagement Can Boost Your Mood and Sense of Purpose
Maintaining regular friendships will boost your self esteem. When you interact with others you’ll feel better about yourself, you’ll take better care of yourself, and you can even heal faster if you’re sick.
While maintaining a positive attitude might not keep you from mistakenly falling for a simple eCommerce scam, it can certainly benefit anyone who might otherwise get caught up in a larger scale exploitation. The better you’re feeling and the more positivity that you’re surrounded by, the less likely you are to fall into a trap that preys on your depression, like romance scams.
5 Easy Ways To Stay In Touch With Your Trusted Circle
- Stay In Touch Via Social Media – Simple enough, but often left to the wayside. Use social media to share photos and say hello to your family and closer friends. Use it as an opportunity to see what they are up to, but of course, be careful and don’t overshare any personal information that may be used by a scammer
- Involve Yourself at Church or Other Religious Institution – This is a great way to keep up with your local community and likely some people who you’ve known for a very long time. Whether it is just a weekly trip for a service or a more regular involvement with extracurricular activities, church, or any religious institution, is a great place to keep up with friends and family.
- Join A Club – This can even be virtual! There are so many options within the community that it really doesn’t matter what delights you. Play poker with some friends on a Wednesday, attend a sewing class on Saturdays, learn to cook with your grandkids. Whatever excites you, get out there and do it.
- Exercise – This one is a double whammy! Moving around will help keep you feeling fit and fresh, plus it’s a good way to spend time with people. It may be a game of tennis or it could be some old fashioned weight lifting, either way, grab a close friend and get to it.
- An Old Fashioned Phone Call – It seems that as technology grows, our fondness of the telephone disappears. While we might be scared of all of those “scam likely” calls on our phones these days, nothing beats an old fashioned catch-up with the family over the phone. Don’t be afraid, just dial the number and say hello. You’d be surprised how excited people are to hear your voice.