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Helping Senior Citizens Stay Safe, Avoid Online Scams Is Good For All of Us

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Blog topics:  Archive

By Chetrice Mosley Romero

August 21st is National Senior Citizens Day! According to Statista, 75 percent of adults 65 and over frequently use the internet. For some perspective, the World Wide Web, as we know it, is only 30 years old. That means this group was already working age adults and most likely didn’t have the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the internet.

In today’s ever-changing society, cybersecurity is a priority regardless of age, however senior citizens are more often targeted by scams due to a perceived vulnerability and that they most likely own a home and have some financial savings. Elder fraud results in more than $3 billion in losses yearly.

Seniors are also less likely to report fraud because they either do not know how to do so, who to contact, or they feel ashamed of being scammed. So how can we protect our elders or help them protect themselves? Here are a few easy ways to avoid scams and fraud targeted at senior citizens!

To get started, it’s important to understand what types of scams that are out there, including:

  • Romance – often referred to as “catfishing” -- using a false identity to pose as someone interested in a relationship on social media.
  • Tech Support – a scammer takes control of a person’s laptop or mobile device and posts a message on the screen to call “tech support” and uses the so-called technology problem – that doesn’t exist – to steal someone’s money.
  • Grandparent Scam – posing as a grandchild in need of immediate financial support
  • Government Impersonation – posing as a government employee seeking demand for a payment to avoid being arrested or prosecuted.
  • Lottery/Sweepstakes Scam – misleading someone to believe they have won a lottery or sweepstakes so long as they pay a “fee”; sometimes they’ll say that the person was entered in the contest by someone else.

To help avoid falling victim to these scams, it’s a good idea to follow a few simple tips:

  • Resist acting quickly. The sense of urgency is key to a lapse in judgement, call the authorities if you have your suspicions
  • Any unsolicited activity is a red flag
  • Never share any personally identifiable information online
  • Keep all anti-virus and security software up to date.
  • Use a password-protected firewall
  • Avoid opening any email attachments from people you do not know; simply delete it

If you believe that someone you know has been the victim of elder cyber fraud, contact your local FBI field office or submit a tip online. Remember to keep any emails or documentation you can to help provided a detailed report of the scam. Remember, too, to not engage in conversation with anyone you think is trying to scam but keep the emails, texts, etc. to help stop them. If you or a loved one in Indiana are a victim of identity theft you can go here for resources on what to do next.

Let’s all do our part to protect our senior citizens today, tomorrow and every day of the year. We’re all in this together and, together, we can keep our cyber spaces friendly, productive, and safe for all. For additional information, visit the Indiana Cybersecurity Hub for the latest cybersecurity news, resources and trends, check out our cyber tips page and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.