Today social media has the presence of people across many generations. The various services being offered online benefits all ages globally. Gone are the days where teenagers and young adults were the only users of social media. Statistics show a rise in senior users within the past few years. 69% of adults between ages 50-64; 40% of those above 65 years of age are found online.
Although there are many advantages that come with being online –there remains a downside. Scam and internet fraud continues to cause small or major losses for groups of people worldwide. What’s worse is that con artists’ prime target for Internet scams have always been the elderly because of perceived vulnerability. Whether senior citizens are more trusting, loyal, or are less aware of potential threats tied to being on the internet –fraudsters continue to prey on them.
Awareness is the first step when taking action. Let’s explore some of the most common elderly scams that everyone of all ages should take note of as well.
1. Grandparent Scams come in various forms –but most commonly through impersonations of family members revealing sad and troubling stories. Claims of seeking immediate assistance to wire money for reasons like bail, medical expenses, or having been in a car accident is something to watch out for.
2. Phone Calls or Door-to-door Schemes. The elderly can be scammed not only by strangers but also by family members or acquaintances. Taking advantage of seeking financial assistance without the intention to pay them back in return is another common scam they must keep in mind.
3. Medicare and Insurance Frauds. Scammers may impersonate Medicare representatives and take advantage of the information to bill Medicare and pocket the money. As transactions are often done over the phone and provide mention of a certain company, the elderly may forget to think twice and give out sensitive information to the caller.
4. Clickbait Ads. Many people of all ages may fall privy to this trick, but even more so for the elderly. Ads that seem too good to be true involving lottery or other monetary prizes are rampant everywhere.
5. Romance Scams. Online dating for all ages comes with the risk of being ‘catfished’. This does not exempt the elderly from being victim to catfishing schemes. Scammers who form instant relationships often take advantage of innocent senior citizens once trust has been established.
With so many online threats to the elderly, there must be an equal number of practices for them to observe, in order to avoid falling victim to these scams.
1. Remind them not to fall for clickbait ads. Letting them be aware that claims from ads to give-away free prizes are most likely fraud and threats to their computers. Instead, remind them to ignore any emails or offers they did not sign up for.
2. Block any solicitation. Opt-out of commercial mail solicitations. There are services online that allow users to ban emails, unidentified phone calls, or offers from untrustworthy sources.
3. Verify phone calls received. If a relative or close friend requests for urgent monetary transfer –independently contact the relative (or parent of the relative) the con artist is claiming to be by calling them back at their personal number.
4. Never give away sensitive information online. Give constant reminders not to hand personal information online such as an address, credit card number, or social security number to company representatives or family members.
5. Report and act quickly. If the scam had already occurred, report immediately to local law enforcement or appropriate authorities online. There are more chances of breaking off any payments made when it had been reported soon after it happened.
The awareness of elderly adults to many different threats online should be given enough importance. It may serve as additional protection for their financial and hard-earned assets. As senior citizens are newer users to the online scene, taking extra precautionary measures by being more aware of these scams is advised for their safety.
This content is brought to you by Sarah Williams.