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How to protect seniors from online scams

How to protect seniors from online scams
Written by ga_dahmani
How to protect seniors from online scams

It is no exaggeration to say that each of us is a potential target for online scams, fraud and cyber attacks. We all have valuable assets that malicious actors want, whether it’s money or our personal data.

While any of us could be the next victim of a cyber scam, cybercriminals have a soft spot for one demographic above all others: seniors.

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This is largely due to the fact that older people are much more likely to be involved in a scam than someone in any other age group. In a report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, people over 60 lost the most money to fraud in 2021.

In recognition of Elder Abuse Awareness MonthThis blog aims to draw attention to the most common scams targeting seniors, while offering practical methods for prevention, detection, and response.

Why are cybercriminals looking for older people?

There are a number of reasons why older people are attractive targets for cybercriminals.

For starters, older adults tend to be more trusting than younger adults. A study by researchers at Northwestern University examined nearly 200,000 people ages 14 to 99. found that older subjects were much more likely to trust a stranger than their younger counterparts. This study claims that older people are less likely to differentiate a genuine appeal or opportunity from one that is malicious or fraudulent.

Second, many seniors often live alone, and scammers can easily take advantage of that loneliness. For example, If a scammer were to contact an older person by phone, that older person is more likely to end up talking to the bad actor than someone in their 20s. In most cases, this is simply because they want company.

In the first study of its kind, researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC found People over the age of 50 who described themselves as lonely or reported having strained personal relationships are more likely to be victims of financial fraud.

And as we know, older people are far from being digital natives. Many lack the digital sophistication that is inherent to older Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Z to protect themselves against stealthy fraudsters.

Common Scams Deployed Against Seniors

While there are too many scams targeting seniors to list in this article, there are a few that stand out. Here are some of the most common scams reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center in the past year:

  • Tech Support Scams: Cybercriminals approach a target and claim that there is a problem with one of their devices. They will then try to convince the target to allow them to take control of the device to steal information; ask them to send money via bank transfer or buy gift cards to solve the fake problem.
  • Romance scams: A cybercriminal will adopt a false persona and reach unsuspecting targets. He will appear as someone kind and caring. But ultimately, this person will claim that he needs help with a problem and ask his target to send money to fix it.
  • Vacation/Lottery Scams: Seniors may receive messages claiming they have won a vacation or the lottery, but to claim any of these prizes, they must provide sensitive information such as their bank account information or a monetary fee.
  • Grandparent Scams: Cybercriminals will pose as grandchildren, telling their “grandparents” that they are in trouble and that the only way out of the situation is for them to send money.
  • Government Impersonator Scams: Cybercriminals pose as government officials and tell the target that they are in danger, or that a loved one is in danger, and that the only way to prevent harm is to send money or personally identifiable information.

How to protect seniors from becoming victims of scams

Cybercriminals have many methods of trying to steal from seniors, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to protect your loved ones. Here are some tangible actions for you to help protect the older people in your life:

  • Education: Sit down with your parents and grandparents and talk to them about these schemes. A good place to start is to tell them to be skeptical about what they see online and to slow down and think before taking any action. Tell them why they shouldn’t rush to answer every email. Tell them no one from the government or any tech company will contact them and if they get a deal that’s too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Ask questions: If an older person in your life tells you about a treatment they received, ask them questions about it. Who offered it? Where did he come from? Did they want something in return for it? Have they really received the treatment in question? By asking these questions, you may be able to break the illusion and open your eyes to a scam.
  • Report the crime: If you know of a senior who has sadly fallen victim to one of these scams, or even contacted a scammer, help them report it and get the funds back, if possible. You can report these criminals to the FTC on their designated website ReportFraud.ftc.gov. add a fraud alert on your credit reports is also a good idea.

It can seem overwhelming to keep yourself protected, let alone protect other family members. But you don’t have to fight this fight alone. Instilling awareness of the most common scams and instituting basic controls can go a long way toward protecting the personal digital lives of your loved ones.

The charge How to protect seniors from online scams first appeared in black cape | Protect your digital life™.

*** This is a syndicated Security Bloggers Network blog from black cape | Protect your digital life™ written by Evan. Read the original post at: https://blackcloak.io/how-to-protect-senior-citizens-from-online-scams/

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