Sadly, scams targeting senior citizens have been around for some time. There are the unethical telemarketers who contact older adults and befriend them in order to obtain bank or credit card account information and then wipe out funds, and those who promise contest prizes or freebies as a way to encourage seniors to buy unwanted and unneeded merchandise.
Skip forward to today’s scammers, who have the additional tool of technology to swindle older adults. Believe it or not, in 2018 alone, the FBI claims an unbelievable $649.2 million was lost by the elderly to internet scams.
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 greatest monetary losses were documented in three main groups:
- Wire transfer requests via email
- Internet romance fraud
- Financial investment schemes
With the majority of older adults now online – approximately 67%, as stated by the Pew Research Center – awareness is necessary in guaranteeing seniors stay safe from internet scams. Speak with the older adults you know about the latest scams, and share the following advice to keep in mind in case a scammer should reach out to them:
- Do not give personal and/or financial data to an internet solicitor, regardless of how “official” the request may sound. The IRS, banking institutions, as well as other reputable companies would not ask for this information online.
- Refrain from entering sweepstakes which promise freebies, trial periods, or prizes in exchange for a purchase and/or a request for charge card information.
- Check the URL of websites being frequented, and only click through to those that are secure – designated by a prefix of https, instead of simply http.
- When in doubt, consult with the Better Business Bureau to confirm the legitimacy of a business, and to see if any complaints have been entered against them.
- Always remember: if something seems too good to be true, it likely is!
If a loved one is victimized by a web-based scammer, he or she (or a third party) can file a claim utilizing the Internet Crime Complaint Center here.
Given that loneliness is an important element in the possibility of a senior being scammed, one action to take today to help safeguard a lonely senior loved one is to partner with Absolute Companion Care, the leaders in senior care in Towson, MD. Our knowledgeable in-home caregivers provide friendly companionship to improve socialization, transportation to enjoyable activities and excursions, and many other services that enable senior loved ones to live and thrive safely and securely at home.