Ensuring That the Trust of Seniors Isn’t Broken by Internet Scams
It’s a well known story that the elderly and those who may not be quite as familiar with how the Internet works have long been a popular target of scammers. Unscrupulous con artists expect that the elderly will be easy to confuse, trick, and/or relieve of whatever money they may have. In fact, according to an American Journal of Public Health estimate, at least five percent of this population is victimized by scammers annually.
Unfortunately, the Internet has only made things easier for these unsavory types. Older people are less likely to be familiar with technology and how it works, and the Internet allows criminals unmonitored access to potential elderly victims. A Department of Justice estimate found that the elderly lose about three billion dollars a year to scams.
Why The Elderly May Be Targeted by Scammers and What You Can Do
The elderly are also popular scam targets because in many instances, they are less likely to report the scam attempt, out of embarrassment or fear that those who care for them will think they are less capable and want to subject them to greater supervision.
Here are some of the most common scams that seniors may face today:
- Sweetheart Scam: Unfortunately, seniors, and especially those who are not part of a community, can get isolated and lonely. If an unscrupulous character shows them love and attention, they may very quickly become attached. When their new best friend comes to them with a sad story about a debt or other financial obligation that they need a little help with, the victim is often all too happy to hand over whatever they can.
- Lottery Fraud Scam: This type of scam includes cons like the Nigerian Prince scam, where the scammer promises an insane sum of money if the victim is just willing to put up a much smaller amount as a handling fee, tax, or show of good faith.
- Donation Scam: Your elderly loved one gets a call or email from a benevolent non-profit charity, asking if they would like to donate to a worthy cause. Once they give out their credit card or checking account information though, the scammer, whose only charity is themselves, gets to work emptying out your senior loved one’s bank account.
- Technology Scam: Someone calls and tells the victim that there is something wrong with their computer and gives the victim detailed instructions on how to fix it. Of course, “the instructions” are really just a way to give the scammer remote access to your computer so they can poke through and help themselves to the victim’s financial data, personal identity information, or anything else they can use to their advantage.
- Government Impersonation Scam: The scammer calls claiming to be a member of a government agency and demanding passwords, social security numbers, or other personal data in order to avoid potential fines or jail time.
With Scams Like This, Anyone Can Be a Target
Of course, just about anyone can fall victim to these scams, but elderly people, who may not be as savvy, can be particularly vulnerable. So, what can you do to help protect the seniors in your life?
One important thing is to urge your senior never to give out private personal data like social security numbers, passwords, or credit card info over the phone or email. If they get a scary email or phone call, or one with an offer that seems to good to be true, have them call you first before letting any money or sensitive information change hands.
If they will let you, you should also make a habit of checking their financial statements each month so you can be alerted to any suspicious activity. Registering them with a credit security agency may not be a bad idea, either.
If they do fall victim of an online scam, or think they have, they can always contact the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
At Golden Placement Services, we believe seniors are happier and function better when they are part of a community. If you are in the Portland or Northern California area and need help finding the right placement for your senior loved one, please contact us now.