As the world increasingly moves online, so do criminals and scammers. Unfortunately, older adults are often targeted by these scams, as they may be less familiar with how the internet works or be more trusting of strangers. This makes them easy prey for scammers looking to take advantage.
At We Care Senior Solutions we’ve been looking after Seniors for over 25 years, and we think these kinds of scams are just plain wrong. We’re all about helping Seniors make the most of this time of their life, and that means giving them good information about how to protect themselves online.
Keep reading to learn more about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from online cybercrime.
Protect Seniors: Online Scams Seniors Should be Aware Of
The majority of scams that target seniors operate through emails. These emails often look like they’re from a legitimate source, such as a government agency or financial institution. They may even include the logos of these organizations to further trick the recipient. There are a few different methods scammers could use.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), seniors lose money every day to emails that promise gift cards, sweepstakes entries, tax refunds, and even lottery winnings. These emails often come from someone pretending to be a family member, friend, or co-worker. They claim that there is some sort of emergency and ask you to wire money or send it directly to another person.
These types of scams are called “phishing” because they attempt to trick unsuspecting victims into giving up personal information like bank account numbers, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and passwords. Once criminals have access to those accounts, they can steal funds or commit identity theft.
According to the kind people at Lepide, there are some things you can do to prevent these kinds of attacks from becoming reality in your life:
They say the #1 thing you can do is to know what these scams look like so that when you see them, you’ll be able to avoid them.
The #2 best way to protect yourself is… “Don’t Click That Link”. The Federal Trade Commission says oftentimes scammers will try to sell you a story that something is wrong and needs your attention. This is directly from the Federal Trade Commission website:
“The message could be from a scammer, who might
- say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts — they haven’t
- claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information — there isn’t
- say you need to confirm some personal or financial information — you don’t
- include an invoice you don’t recognize — it’s fake
- want you to click on a link to make a payment — but the link has malware
- say you’re eligible to register for a government refund — it’s a scam
- offer a coupon for free stuff — it’s not real”
The best practice is… if you’re not sure you better ask someone. Ask your children, if you live in a Senior Living community, to ask your Executive Director to take a look at the email before you click on anything or give anyone your personal information.
There are several ways that scammers try to scam seniors. One common tactic involves sending fake documents that seem legitimate. For example, a criminal might send a document that looks like a court summons or notice that requires you to pay taxes or file a lawsuit. This type of attack usually happens when someone calls your home posing as a law enforcement official.
Another popular method is known as “social engineering.” Social engineers pretend to be friends or relatives of the targeted individual. They might call asking for help paying bills or requesting assistance with something like a computer problem. If you give them access to your computer, they could install malware or change settings without your knowledge.
Impersonating a Bank or Company
In addition to phishing and social engineering, scammers may pose as employees of banks or companies that provide banking services. They might tell you that you owe money and threaten legal action unless you immediately transfer money out of your account. Or they might offer you a job, claiming that it pays well and offers benefits. They use this offer to gather your personal information and gain access to bank accounts or commit identity theft.
Avoiding Online Scams Targeting Older Adults
As social media sites become more popular, they are also becoming a breeding ground for scammers. Senior adults are especially vulnerable to these types of scams, as they are often not as familiar with the risks of sharing sensitive information online. There are a few common scams that target seniors, such as social security scams and fake charity scams.
To protect yourself from becoming a victim of one of these scams:
- It is important to be aware of the risks.
- Be careful about what information you share on social media sites, and never give out your social security number or bank account information to someone you don’t know.
- Block Robocalls – The United States Government has made it so that you can blog robocalls. This alone will lower the risk that you or your loved one will fall victim to a con artist. You can learn how to block calls here.
Look for local nonprofit organizations that might teach about online safety. Education for older adults in this area is very important.
Here are some common ways scammers try to pull off elder fraud:
- Financial fraud via fake websites
- Mail in envelope looking gather your personal information
- Romance scams on Facebook
- Wire transfers to people down on their luck
- Medical bills scams where the scammer tries to get personal information
- Phone calls acting like a legitimate business, only to steal your personal information
- Suspicious links in emails and on fake websites
Too many seniors fall prey to fraud and con artists every day. By avoiding scams and protecting private information older people will enjoy life more. If you’re the child of an older adult that may be vulnerable to elder fraud it would be a good idea to look for warning signs that your loved one might be falling victim. It’s a good idea to check on which websites they are visiting and it might be a good idea to check in on social media chat conversations. Be sure to report fraud scams that you may uncover. You can do that here.
At We Care Senior Solutions we help seniors find the best Senior Living Community. If you or your loved one needs help finding a place we’d love to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.