Scammers target a variety of individuals and organizations, but many specialize in defrauding senior citizens. They assume that seniors will be less familiar with technological solutions and, therefore, more likely to fall victim to scams that younger victims might find suspicious.
Unfortunately, seniors are not only targeted frequently – they often end up sacrificing more money to any given scam. This adds up quickly. Data from the FBI and FTC suggests that cybercrimes involving seniors now result in total losses of $650 million per year. This represents a huge increase since 2014. Sadly, the real impact may be far greater, as this data only reflects self-reported incidents. Research also indicates that older individuals are vulnerable to wire fraud, email scams, and identity theft.
Interestingly, while seniors often suffer from cybercrime, they’re far more tech-savvy than most people realize. Sadly, they’re also less likely to seek the support they deserve. Many cite embarrassment as a top barrier. Others worry about bothering loved ones or even losing their independence, simply because they struggle to navigate complicated FBI forms and other essentials.
Options for Protecting Seniors Against Internet Scammers
Online scammers grow increasingly savvy, but it’s still possible for seniors to make full use of the internet while keeping their data and financial resources safe. The first step? Understanding that anyone can be targeted, regardless of age. Embarrassment should not stand in the way of seeking viable solutions. While fraudsters go after seniors more frequently, many are just as successful when targeting allegedly tech-savvy Millennials and members of Gen Z.
Once seniors feel less ashamed about their current technological prowess, they can seek the proactive solutions needed to minimize the risk of scams. There’s no shame in starting from square one. A variety of resources are available for gaining essential knowledge and seeking preventative measures. Once aware of their access to such options, seniors can make the most of fact-checking opportunities, which may assist in distinguishing between scams and ordinary digital interactions.
Another key measure for avoiding elderly fraud scams is to stay on top of password management. While the need for stronger password protection exists among internet users in all age groups, seniors are more vulnerable due to the sheer frequency with which they’re targeted. It may seem inconvenient, but it’s important to use different passwords for all accounts – and to change them regularly. The longer and more complicated the password, the better.
Additional options worth considering include:
- Using virtual private networks (VPNs) when using public Wi-Fi at libraries, community centers, or other public locations.
- Logging out promptly after using shared computers or other devices – and, when possible, clearing any history generated during such sessions.
- Limiting the use of sensitive information to secure websites, which should be prefaced by “https” rather than “http.”
- Seeking remote monitoring solutions to ensure consistent oversight of digital activities and threats.
- Avoiding the use of voice search results when dialing numbers and, instead, looking up necessary contact information before entering it manually.
In general, healthy skepticism is advisable for all interactions that occur online and over the phone. When in doubt, avoid sharing sensitive information – especially if problematic interactions are actively solicited, rather than initiated on your end.
Unfortunately, scams are possible even for those who maintain the full range of security protocol outlined above. In the event of fraud, it’s important to report the situation to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Such action is critical even for unsuccessful attempts at fraud. By filing complaints, you can help the FBI address the growing problem of senior-oriented cybercrime.
NerdsToGo Computer Service
At NerdsToGo, we’ve encountered our fair share of scammers. In an especially infuriating situation that was brought to our attention, a 93-year-old customer was targeted by a scam recommending that he call Microsoft because he’d supposedly been attacked. In another case involving this unfortunate victim, a fraudster was bold enough to pose as a Microsoft employee and request all passwords. To assist this particular customer, we’ve implemented a comprehensive account management strategy. This allows us to alert him of – and defend against – a wide variety of attacks. He is just one of many seniors we serve at NerdsToGo.
Do you believe that you’ve been targeted by a scammer? It’s time to take action. The NerdsToGo team is sensitive to your concerns and eager to help. We’re furious about the prevalence of financial scams targeting seniors – and determined to do our part to address the problem. To that end, we offer a variety of cybersecurity services, including virus removal and in-home computer repair services. We also provide proactive measures to reduce the risk of suffering such scams in the first place. Often, this involves extensive monitoring, which allows us to pinpoint suspicious behavior long before it leads to significant financial losses.
Whether you’re looking to ramp up your current security protocol or urgently need a fix after suffering a breach, you deserve support from our team of certified Nerds. Contact us today to learn more about our monitoring options, in-home repair services, and computer virus removal in Portland, OR.