It’s an extremely sad reality that we live in a world where bad people can take advantage of senior citizens over the internet and scam them out of money. Many seniors aren’t as used to technology as the younger generations who have grown up with it are, and are more likely to fall for an internet scam. Although it is important for people of all ages to be cautious of online scams, older people have been found to be more vulnerable due to their trusting nature, their unfamiliarity with social media, and in some cases, their deteriorating cognitive function caused by old age.
If you’ve fallen for an online scam, or know of anyone that has, it can be a traumatic and embarrassing experience to go through. Protect yourself and your loved ones by reviewing some of these important scam prevention tips for seniors.
1. Be Cautious
It is always a good idea to be cautious of strangers that reach out to you online. For extra caution, you can also be skeptical if a message comes from someone you know sending you a message via email, social media, or instant messaging apps, and something about the message seems unusual. Your friend or family members account could have been hacked, so it is best not to click on any suspicious links they send or give them your personal information.
2. Avoid Suspicious Links
A phishing attack is often done in the form of an unsolicited email or social media message, and will usually include a spam link as “bait.” The spam link will then take you to a fake website that appears to be from a trusted entity and trick you into giving out personal information.
Previously, phishing emails were easier to spot as they often include misspelled words and grammatical errors. More recently, however, online scammers will go to extra lengths to make their emails and lookalike web pages look genuine and authentic; this can make them a lot harder to catch. It is best to never assume that any unsolicited email or direct social media message is authentic and to avoid clicking through on any suspicious links.
3. Don’t Trust Fake Competitions
A very common and awful online scam that many elderly people have fallen for is someone reaching out via a phone call, email, or direct messaging, to say they are a prize winner of a competition. The scammer then proceeds to say that you need to give out your personal information or make an initial payment to receive your prize money. The scammer will often state that their request is “urgent” so that you won’t even have time to think about whether it is a scam or not, and you don’t want to miss out on receiving your non-existent prize money. It is important to remember that there is no such thing as “free money” and legitimate competitions will not ask you to make a payment in order to receive your prize.
4. Don’t Send Money To Strangers
An extremely common online scam is for someone to start a fake relationship with a person they have met online, only to end up trying to solicit money from them. Seniors are unfortunately more likely to fall for an online romance scam as loneliness is one of the top issues that elderly people deal with. It is strongly recommended to always be cautious of people you meet online and to never send them money if you’ve never met with them in person.
5. Avoid Falling For Technical Support Scams
A popular vishing scam that seniors fall for is when someone calls from a spoofed phone number pretending to be offering you tech support from a reputable brand such as Apple. The scammer will convince you that your computer or mobile phone has been compromised and they need to gain remote access to resolve the issue. The scammer will then be able to hack into your device and steal your personal information or convince you to make them an upfront payment to fix the issue. Review some tips on how to avoid falling for a technical support scam, and remember that a real Apple support specialist will never ask you to make a payment over the phone, nor will they ask for you to divulge personal information like your passwords, checking account or credit card numbers.
How To Stay Vigilant Online
As we continue to spend more of our time online and post information about ourselves, it is important to learn how to protect your information, stay vigilant, and not fall for an online scam. Continue to check our page for the latest updates on online scams, and be sure to share these tips with your friends and family members.