We’ve long been familiar with the propensity of frauds directed at seniors – unscrupulous telemarketers who reach out to those who are frail, isolated, and lonely, befriending them for the true purpose of obtaining banking account information and credit card numbers and then wiping out funds. Or folks who offer contest prizes and freebies as a way to entice unsuspecting seniors to buy unwanted and unneeded products.
Skip forward to today’s scammers, who have the additional tool of technology to swindle older people. Believe it or not, in 2018 alone, the FBI reports a staggering $649.2 million lost by internet scams targeting seniors.
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 monetary losses were documented in three primary categories:
- Wire transfer requests via email
- Internet relationship fraud
- Financial investment schemes
Considering the majority of older adults now online – approximately 67%, as reported by the Pew Research Center – awareness is necessary in making certain older adults maintain their safety from internet scams targeting seniors specifically. Consult with the older adults in your life about existing scams, and share the following advice to be aware of in the event that a scammer should get in touch with them:
- Do not supply personal and/or financial information to an internet solicitor, no matter how “official” the inquiry may sound. The IRS, finance institutions, along with other dependable companies would not request these details online.
- Refrain from entering sweepstakes that promise freebies, trial periods, or prizes in exchange for a purchase and/or a request for charge card information.
- Investigate the URL of websites being frequented, and only click through to those that are secure – designated by a prefix of https, rather than only http.
- When in doubt, seek the advice of the Better Business Bureau to ensure the validity of a company, and to find out if any complaints have been lodged against them.
- Don’t forget: if things seem too good to be true, they likely are!
If a family member should be victimized by an internet scammer, she or he (or a third party) can file a claim with the Internet Crime Complaint Center here.
Because loneliness is a key factor in a senior’s likelihood of being scammed, one step you are able to take today to help protect a lonely senior loved one is to partner with Home With You Senior Care, providers of elder care Baltimore and the surrounding areas trust. Our knowledgeable in-home caregivers provide friendly companionship to improve socialization, transportation to fun activities and excursions, and many other services that empower older adults to live and thrive safely and securely in the home.