Did you know that in 2020, the FBI found that seniors lost almost $1 billion to scams, with 105,000 people over the age of 65 falling victims to crooks? As seniors continue to be targeted by scammers, associates from our independent lifestyle community in Cape May County have taken the time to compile some helpful tips to keep your loved ones safe. But before we dive into their advice, it helps to understand the three most common types of scams to look out for first.
Senior Scam #1: Identity theft. This generally takes 3 forms: pharming (legitimate-looking websites run by scammers that require someone to fill in personal information), phishing (legitimate-looking emails that trick someone into sending personal information), and smishing (text message versions of phishing).
Senior Scam #2: Tech support fraud. Although more seniors are using computers, smartphones, and digital platforms than ever before, there are still seniors who aren’t very tech-savvy. Fake websites and fraudulent contacts can trigger malware downloads or even fake virus and application alerts, often with a message with a contact number to resolve the issue. A scammer on the other end of the line then asks for remote access to their computer to ‘fix’ the problem. In the process, what they really do is steal sensitive data, request payment for their “service,” and then obtain personal credit card information.
Senior Scam #3: Online shopping fraud. Here, a scammer will contact a person to sell them fraudulent, fake, or non-existent products or scare the person by saying they haven’t paid for something and send them an invoice of demand. This has become especially prevalent as eCommerce has taken off more amongst seniors.
Tips to protect seniors from online scams
Luckily, there are some easy ways to help keep your mom or dad safe, or at least lower their risks of falling victim to a scam.
- First, tell them to never, ever share personal information with anyone over the phone, online, or via email. If they think it is legitimate, they should confirm it with you first. Scammers often make their demands time-sensitive and demanding, but they must never be afraid to wait before they act!
- Then, set up safeguards on their digital devices. This can include up-to-date antivirus software, VPNs, anti-malware software, pop-up/ad blockers, and 2-factor authentication. You can also ask their permission to be added to their bank account notifications and move larger savings to secure accounts separate from their credit card account.
- Teach them what to look for in scam messages. This can include how to hover over an email address to see how it’s spelled (usually there are misspellings or odd addresses, like a Gmail account using a bank’s name). They can also look for misspellings in messages, and learn not to open attachments or links in unusual or chain emails.
- If they are unsure about an email or text message’s legitimacy, ask them to always contact the company directly – not via phone numbers or links on the suspicious message. The company can always let your loved one know if there is really an issue, special offer, or legitimate request.
Comfortable, secure senior living at UMC at The Shores
UMC at The Shores is a secure community offering independent lifestyles with support in South Jersey. Our team is passionate about helping seniors live full and rewarding lives in a safe and welcoming environment. Our associates are all well-versed in the latest technology and can teach your senior loved one valuable tips so that they don’t fall victim to online scams. They are only a call away, should your loved one have any questions about a suspicious call, text, or email they received.