The elderly are a major target for fraud. Scammers prey on the vulnerabilities of older adults and are able to gain millions of dollars every year from them through various fraud schemes, including online fraud.
There are steps older adults can take to protect themselves against online fraud. Here are common ways scammers take advantage of the elderly, and how the elderly can protect themselves from online fraud.
Limit Your Information
More and more older adults are using social media platforms today. One of the main reasons is to stay connected to family members, friends, and colleagues who may no longer live close.
Older adults also use social media to make connections to other people like them, be it through community groups or special interest groups. Scammers often use social media as a way to gain personal information about people then use this information as part of their scam.
For example, they may note the names of friends or family members of an elderly person as well as some groups that they are a part of. Then, they might reach out to this person online and gain their trust by mentioning those people, groups, or events.
To prevent against this, you should limit the amount of personal information you list on your social media accounts. In addition, only friend, follow or add other people you know personally.
Use the Internet Against Scammers
Some scammers take advantage of the elderly by offering deals that sound too good to be true. They use the power of “act fast” to convince older adults to sign up for something or send money immediately, lest they miss out on the offer.
Seniors can use the very tool that scammers are using to propagate their scam against them. If someone is extending you an offer, search that offer on a search engine. Many times, other people and websites dedicated to identifying fraud attempts will post about that offer. This can help seniors identify potential online scammers. If an older adult doesn’t have access to a computer or the internet, have a trusted family member find information online instead.
The elderly should resist the urge to “act fast” and take a minute or two to verify the information being told to them before they do anything at all. The more informed you are, the better protected you are again scams.
Know Who You’re Talking To
Scammers often pose as legitimate representatives of businesses or organizations to steal money or vital information from the elderly. They may say they’re a representative of a credit card company, for example, and obtain a person’s full credit card number, billing address and Social Security number from them.
It’s very easy for scammers to pose as someone else online. They can link to legitimate websites (or even set up fake ones of their own), and make it seem that they’re exactly who they say they are.
One way the elderly can avoid being scammed this way is to never provide information or send money to anyone they don’t know. If you receive an email or social media message from someone claiming to be a representative of a credit card company, don’t respond.
Instead, pick up the phone and call the number printed on the back of your credit card to see if there’s an actual issue with your account. If the inquiry was legitimate, the representative on the phone can help. If it was a scam, they’ll know nothing of what you’re talking about.
Don’t Click on Pop-Ups
Pop-Up windows appear all the time when you’re online. Some websites use them as legitimate advertising tools to market a brand, product, service or message.
Scammers also use them as a way to install malicious software on your computer or mobile device, which they’ll use to steal your personal information at a later date.
The most obvious way to combat this is to never click on a pop-up. This can sometimes be difficult, though, with all the pop-ups appearing on your screen. So, another good idea is to install legitimate software and tools that will block pop-ups. In fact, many web browsers have these features pre-installed with them. This can help make it easy for seniors to shut down pop-ups.
Watch What You Open and Download
Along the same lines, scammers will also embed malicious software in email attachments and downloadable files. Once the attachment is opened or the software installed, the malicious tools will be put on your computer or device to steal your information and cause havoc.
The elderly can prevent this type of online scam by only opening email attachments from people they know. Don’t just rely on the display name of the email address, either. Instead, double check the email address the message is coming from to ensure someone isn’t trying to spoof the email of someone you know.
In addition, only download and install software from websites that you know and trust. This means downloading the software directly from the company’s website–and not a third-party site–or from the reputable app stores on mobile devices such as the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
Work With an Experienced Financial Advisor
Fraud is rampant everywhere and it’s important to protect your information and your finances. Our knowledgeable financial advisors at Good Life Financial Advisors of Mt. Pleasant are here to help you plan your investments. Contact us today to speak to our consultants and learn more about the tools and guidance we offer.
The opinions voiced are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.