We’ve always been familiar with the propensity of frauds aimed towards older adults – unscrupulous telemarketers who get in touch with those people who are frail, isolated, and lonely, befriending them for the intended purpose of obtaining bank account information and charge card numbers and then wiping out finances. Or folks who promise contest prizes and freebies as a way to encourage unsuspecting older adults to purchase unwanted and unneeded things.
Fast forward to today’s scammers, who possess the extra tool of technology to victimize the elderly. Believe it or not, in 2018 alone, the FBI estimates that scamming the elderly online led to an unbelievable $649.2 million lost by seniors.
As reported by Donna Gregory, chief of 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 reported in three primary groups:
- Wire transfer requests via email
- Internet dating fraud
- Investment funds schemes
Considering the majority of older adults now online – roughly 67%, according to research by the Pew Research Center – awareness is key in making sure senior loved ones stay safe from internet scams. Speak with the older adults you know about current scams, and share the following advice to keep in mind in the event a scammer should get in touch with them:
- Do not offer personal and/or financial data to an online solicitor, no matter how “official” the inquiry may appear. The IRS, finance institutions, and other reputable organizations will never ask for this information online.
- Avoid entering into sweepstakes which promise freebies, trial periods, or prizes in exchange for a purchase and/or a request for credit card information.
- Look at the URL of websites being visited, and only click through to those that are secure – designated by a prefix of https, instead of only http.
- When in doubt, check with the Better Business Bureau to confirm the validity of an organization, and to determine if any issues have already been lodged against them.
- Keep in mind: if things seem too good to be true, they more than likely are!
If a senior loved one should be victimized by a web-based scammer, he or she (or a third party) can register a complaint utilizing the Internet Crime Complaint Center here.
Since isolation is an important element in a senior’s probability of being scammed, one action you can take today to help protect a lonely senior family member is to partner with Inspired Home Care, the Arlington Heights home care experts. Our experienced in-home caregivers provide friendly companionship to enhance socialization, transportation to fun activities and outings, and many other services that enable the elderly to live and thrive safely and securely in the home.