Photo by the Center for Aging Better on Unsplash
The internet has transformed our lives by offering convenience, information and connectivity at our fingertips. However, it also provides opportunities for fraudsters and criminals to prey on naïve people, particularly seniors. The growing threat of online scams is cause for alarm as scammers’ tactics become more sophisticated.
According to recent studies:
- Seniors aged 60 and above filed 88,262 complaints with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center in 2022 over cyber scams.
- The total financial damage from these complaints was $3.1 billion, resulting in an 84% increase from 2021.
- Each senior suffered a loss in excess of $35,000 on average.
- Over 5,000 older citizens reported losses in excess of $100,000.
In this article, we hope to share information that helps to identify cyber scams that target seniors and provide caregivers with essential internet safety guidelines to protect senior loved ones and clients.
Types of Cyber-Scams
- Phishing scams trick seniors into revealing personal information, like passwords, social security numbers or credit card details, through deceptive emails or websites.
- Tech Support Scams: Scammers, posing as computer technicians, offer to fix nonexistent issues on seniors’ devices, convincing them to grant remote access, ultimately leading to the theft of sensitive data or the imposition of excessive fees for unnecessary services.
- Medicare Scams: Fraudsters frequently target seniors with deceptive healthcare schemes, such as Medicare fraud, which includes fake medical equipment providers or misleading offers for free treatments in exchange for personal information.
- Romance Scams: Lonely seniors seeking online companionship are frequently targeted by criminals who create fake profiles on dating and friendship websites, and then request money under false pretenses. Never, ever send money to these people. 100% of the time, it’s a scam with intent to rob you.
- Investment scammers frequently exploit seniors, promising high returns in various schemes, including pyramid and Ponzi schemes, ultimately leaving them devastated financially.
- Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams: Seniors are repeatedly targeted with calls falsely claiming that they have won a substantial sum but must pay taxes upfront to receive their winnings.
- Social Media Scams: The growing popularity of social media among seniors increases the risk of falling victim to scams, such as fake friend requests or urgent messages requesting financial assistance.
Tips on How to Avoid Cyber Scams
- It is absolutely imperative to verify trustworthiness before sharing sensitive information; legitimate organizations such as your banking institution, Social Security, Medicare, etc. will not request information via email or text. They already have this information. Play it safe, hang up and call your bank, Social Security Administration, etc., and ask if they are trying to contact you.
- Use complex passwords—seniors should always use mixed letters, numbers, and symbols; avoid easily guessable options like birthdays or pet names.
- Exercise caution with links; seniors should be wary of phishing attempts in emails or messages that aim to extract personal information or install malware.
- Software Update: Update operating systems, antivirus software, and device applications for security. Antivirus software will run regular scans and also offers the user the option to run random scans.
- Stay skeptical: Seniors and caregivers should beware of unsolicited emails or urgent messages promising prizes, discounts, or get-rich-quick schemes—often scams aiming to steal money or personal data. As the old saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Online safety starts with recognizing threats. Seniors and caregivers should remain vigilant, verify requests for legitimacy before sharing personal data, and follow these tips to avoid cyber scams.
Have fun, explore and learn….but always be cautious!
Allcare Home Health Agency, Inc. offers non-medical and skilled nursing services in the Raleigh/Durham area. Contact us today to learn more or call (919) 301-0236!