Unfortunately, older adults have been the target of fraud for some time – unethical telemarketers who reach out to people who are frail, isolated, and lonely, befriending them for the purpose of obtaining bank account information and charge card numbers and then depleting funds. Or people who promise contest prizes and freebies as a way to encourage unsuspecting older adults to buy unwanted and unnecessary merchandise.
Skip forward to today’s scammers, who possess the extra resource of technology to swindle senior citizens. Believe it or not, in 2018 alone, the FBI estimates an astounding $649.2 million lost by older adults to internet scams.
As reported by 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 relationship fraud
- Investment schemes
With the vast majority of older adults now online – about 67%, as reported by the Pew Research Center – awareness is important in ensuring seniors remain safe from internet scams. Speak with the older adults in your life about current scams, and share these internet safety tips with them should they be contacted by scammers:
- Never offer personal and/or financial information to an internet solicitor, regardless of how “official” the request may appear. The IRS, banking institutions, as well as other reliable companies won’t ever ask for this info online.
- Try to avoid entering sweepstakes that promise freebies, trial periods, or prizes in exchange for a purchase and/or a request for bank card information.
- Check the URL of websites being visited, and only click through to those that are secure – specified by a prefix of https, rather than simply http.
- When in doubt, seek advice from the Better Business Bureau to ensure the legitimacy of a business, and to discover if any problems 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 exploited by a web-based scammer, she or he (or a 3rd party) can file a complaint through the Internet Crime Complaint Center here.
Since isolation is a key factor in an older adult’s probability of being scammed, you can help protect a lonely senior loved one by partnering with Anthem Home Care, the leader in home health care in Corpus Christi and surrounding areas. Our experienced in-home caregivers provide pleasant companionship to enhance socialization, transportation to enjoyable activities and outings, and many more services that enable older adults to live and thrive safely and securely at home.