Seniors are commonly targeted online and via phone because they’re viewed as more trusting and less tech savvy.
The Special Committee of Aging states that seniors fork over $3 billion dollars every year due to targeted scams. Why are seniors so appealing besides their low technology use, which is where information warning of these scams circulate?
Seniors have different forms of income that are attractive to criminals online. Their retirement savings, bank accounts, and social security number can be extremely valuable to steal.
A simple rule of thumb is: if it sounds too good to be true or very unlikely, it’s a scam! Winning a free getaway that you have no knowledge is too good to be true. The IRS calling and threatening to arrest you if you don’t pay a balance of $5,000 is very unlikely.
Spotting & Preventing Online Scams
What are some common online scams? AgingInPlace states that common online scams targeting seniors are:
- Free Vacation Promises
- Lower Priced Prescriptions
- Lower Priced Anti-Aging Products
- Credit Advance for a fee
- Sweepstakes Winner
Now that we’ve discussed the issue at hand, how do we solve it? Here are a few ways you can counter phone scams and online scams.
#1 Beware of Attachments
Online criminals will often send emails with attachments or links that entice you to click. After clicking, it leaves your computer open to viruses and malware that can steal your information.
More sophisticated emails will have the appearance of a trustworthy company such as your bank. These emails will urge you to input your banking username and password in order to gain access to your accounts. You think you’re signing in to your actual bank, but you’re not!
#2 Don’t Befriend Everyone
Believe it or not, cyber criminals usually perform an abundance of research on their target before they strike. What better place to do research on an individual than social media? With that being said, be careful and only accept friend or follow requests from people you know. Nine times out of ten a fake profile is adding you!
#3 Government Agencies
The most talked about scam on the internet today is the IRS scam. One important fact to know is that the IRS will never email you requesting money or asking for sensitive information. If you receive an email as such, report it as spam and never give up sensitive information or click any of the links in the email.
Spotting & Preventing Phone Scams
Similar to the point above about the IRS emailing you, they will never call you requesting money and threatening to have you arrested if payment isn’t made. This is a dead giveaway and the phone conversation should be ended quickly.
#2 Unknown Numbers
Try your best not to answer phone calls from unknown numbers. Even if the phone call is from a telemarketer, by answering you’re letting them know that they can continue calling because you’re more than likely going to answer.
If all else fails and you’re unsure of what to do in a situation, don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for clarification. It’s always good to confirm your suspicions with trusted loved ones.
We want to ensure no senior is falling victim to common scams committed by criminals for financial gain. Overall, always question the motives of individuals online and over the phone.