We have always been familiar with the tendency of frauds aimed towards the elderly – shady telemarketers who get in touch with people who are frail, isolated, and lonely, befriending them for the purpose of obtaining bank account information and credit card numbers and then wiping out funds. Or individuals who promise contest prizes and freebies as a means to encourage unsuspecting older adults to purchase unwanted and unneeded merchandise.
Skip forward to today’s scammers, who possess the extra resource of technology to victimize older adults. The truth is, in 2018 alone, the FBI reports an astounding $649.2 million lost by seniors to internet scams.
According to Donna Gregory, chief for the FBI’s Internet Complaint Crime Center, “The 2018 report shows how prevalent these crimes are. It also shows that the financial toll is substantial and a victim can be anyone who uses a connected device.”
The biggest financial losses were reported in three main groups:
- Wire transfer requests via email
- Internet relationship fraud
- Financial investment schemes
With the majority of older adults now online – about 67%, according to the Pew Research Center – awareness is crucial in making sure senior loved ones stay safe from internet scams. Speak with the older adults in your life about existing scams, and discuss the following tips to keep in mind in the event a scammer should reach out to them:
- Do not give personal and/or financial data to an online solicitor, no matter how “official” the inquiry may sound. The IRS, finance institutions, and other trustworthy companies would not ask for this information online.
- Try to avoid entering sweepstakes which promise freebies, trial periods, or prizes in exchange for a purchase and/or a request for charge card information.
- Look at the URL of websites being frequented, and only click through to those that are secure – specified by a prefix of https, rather than only http.
- When in doubt, consult with the Better Business Bureau to verify the authenticity of a company, and to find out if any issues have been lodged against them.
- Remember: if things seem too good to be true, they likely are!
If a loved one is exploited by an online scammer, she or he (or a 3rd party) can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center here.
Considering that loneliness is a crucial factor in an older adult’s odds of being scammed, one step it is possible to take right now to help protect a lonely senior loved one would be to partner with Live Free Home Health Care, the home care specialists Concord, NH families trust. Our reliable in-home caregivers provide pleasant companionship to improve socialization, transportation to enjoyable events and excursions, and many other services that enable senior loved ones to live and thrive safely at home.