The Internet is a wonderful place. It allows you to connect with friends and family, watch the news, consume entertainment, pay bills, receive payments, and much more. Unfortunately, with more people online nowadays, the Internet is also a risky space – every year, millions of American seniors fall victim to various scams.
Knowledge is your first line of defense. Here are some of the most common scams you should be aware of:
A scammer will pose as a health care representative on social media and ask for your confidential information. They may also offer you new products and services at excellent value. Then, they’ll use your data to bill a health insurance program and keep the funds.
Scammers want the money you’ve saved up for your retirement. They’ll contact you online with a fake get-rich-quick scheme and ask for an investment. Alternatively, they will send you an email with a link that offers more information. However, this link will install malicious software like spyware on your computer that secretly transmits your private data to a crook.
Scammers will target you with emails, texts, and other aggressive messages claiming that you’ve won the lottery. These emails usually carry malware designed to steal your data. A scammer may also send you a fake check to win your confidence. While you wait for the check to clear, the hacker will demand hefty payments for taxes and other processing fees.
Hackers will stoop to any level – they’ll even play with your heartstrings. Remember, it’s easy to create a fake account on social media. Posing as your grandchild, a hacker will message you on Facebook and ask for money for an unexpected financial problem. They’ll even ask you to keep the conversation a secret to keep the scam going for years.
Like the grandparent scam, a romance scam uses your heart against you. Hackers create fake Internet profiles to befriend you and ask for money. Usually, the scammer grooms you for several months to a year, building a fake relationship. One day, out of the blue, they ask for money to buy a ticket to come to see you or to pay for a family emergency. Of course, these are all lies.
Although elder fraud scams grow more sophisticated by the day, you can protect yourself with the following tips.
- Secure Your Computer: Use advanced antivirus software that offers real-time protection against all malware threats. To secure your network, use a firewall and get a private VPN from a trustworthy source. Avoid free VPNs because they also carry malware. Update your software regularly to plug security holes.
- Protect Your Sign-in Credentials: Set a strong password to protect your financial data. Use a reputable password manager to help you keep track of your sign-in information.
- Trust No One: Don’t hand over your confidential data to anyone on the Internet, even if their account appears trustworthy. If family members ask for money on social media, then pick up the phone and call them to verify their identity before deciding if you want to help.
- Use the Internet: Crosscheck the names, email addresses, and phone numbers of suspicious parties on search engines. Many scammers are infamous on the Internet.
- Be Careful: Trust your instincts! Don’t visit unknown websites, click pop-ups, download fraudulent software, or open emails asking for confidential information. Learn more about phishing scams to stay safe. If your computer is compromised, then disconnect the Internet immediately and call a cybersecurity expert for assistance.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Stay in touch with trusted family members and inform them of any suspicious activity. Monitor your accounts and immediately call your financial institutions if you need aid. Contact the authorities if you are the victim of elder fraud before to avoid further damage.