Older people are scammed out of more than $3 billion each year and this population is typically a top target for con artists, especially online. In this post, we will review some scams to look out for regarding computer security for seniors as well as ways to enhance internet security for seniors.
Common Threats in Online Safety for Seniors
There are several concerns regarding online security for seniors, ranging from relationship scams to credit card fraud. Below are some common threats in cyber security for seniors.
Fake credit card offers. This is one of the most common forms of online fraud. Scammers will offer a too-good-to-be-true credit card offer that requires an “advancement fee.” The con artists will swindle that money out of the senior with no credit card to be found.
Romantic relationship scams. The idea of romance — especially for widows — can be very appealing to some senior citizens. With this scam, con artists will pose as potential partners and may or may not meet the senior in person. Later on down the line, the scammer will ask for money claiming they need to solve some personal problems and then once they get their desired amount of money, they will cut off contact.
Grandchild scams. Con artists will pose as grandchildren asking for financial assistance. Often, the scammer will give the senior a tight deadline to send over funds, giving the senior limited time to check in on the actual grandchild.
Lottery and charity scams. Hackers will impersonate lotteries or charities and convince seniors they have either won a special contest or persuade them to make a donation.
Vacation scams. Scammers will take advantage of seniors’ desire for retirement or vacations. They will often offer “free” trips where the senior only has to pay fees or deposits and the vacation property will be non-existent. Furthermore, they can offer vacations at discounted rates, only for the senior to find out that the property was not at the advertised location.
Tech support scams. Scammers will pose as a tech support agent and flag a fake virus on the senior’s computer or mobile device. They will then instruct the senior to solve the problem by downloading a program, which will then steal their personal information.
Government impersonation scams. With this scam, criminals will pose as government employees and demand payment or personal information for a made-up fine or other seemingly legit fees.
Email phishing scams. These types of emails will pose as if they are coming from reputable companies and instruct seniors to download some type of program, which will comb through the senior’s personal information.
In the next section, we will review some tips to enhance cyber security for senior citizens.
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Cyber Security Tips for Seniors
Here are some ways you can ensure internet safety for seniors.
Question the validity of sources. Just because someone knows your full name and address, it does not mean they are trustworthy.
Go to the source directly. For example, if you get an email from someone claiming to be from your bank, you can always call the bank directly to confirm if there are issues with your account.
Avoid opening attachments from unknown sources. These can include harmful malware.
Check the email address. For example, someone could email you claiming they are from Griswold Home Care but the email address could be several jumbled letters and numbers. They could also have typos such as grisw0ldhomecare.com. Emails from Griswold Home Care will only be from griswoldhomecare.com.
Use unique passwords and change your passwords regularly. This will help prevent senior citizen security issues and privacy violations.
Do not share personal information unless the site is legit. Only share credit card info and other sensitive information on trustworthy and legit sites.
Do not click pop-up ads. Cyber security experts will not show up in a pop-up ad.
Do not give money to charities until you confirm they’re legit. Conduct some internet research to determine if they are real charities. The Internal Revenue Service offers a database where you can confirm registered charities.
Be careful when interacting with strangers online. You should be especially careful around those who request finances.
Set automatic updates on your computer. If someone tells you you need an upgrade, you will know it is a scam.