We have always been familiar with the tendency of frauds aimed towards older adults – suspicious telemarketers who reach out to those who are frail, isolated, and lonely, befriending them for the intended purpose of obtaining banking account information and bank card numbers and then depleting funds. Or those who promise contest prizes and freebies as a way to lure unsuspecting older adults to purchase unwanted and unnecessary merchandise.
Fast forward to today’s scammers, who possess the additional tool of technology to victimize seniors. The truth is, in 2018 alone, the FBI reports an unbelievable $649.2 million lost by older adults to internet scams.
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 most significant financial losses were documented in three main groups:
- Wire transfer requests via email
- Internet romance fraud
- Investment schemes
With the vast majority of older adults now online – approximately 67%, according to the Pew Research Center – knowledge is crucial in ensuring seniors stay safe from internet scams. Consult with the older adults who you know about current scams, and share the following advice to promote internet safety:
- Never give personal and/or financial data to an online solicitor, no matter how “official” the inquiry may appear. The IRS, banking institutions, and other trustworthy companies will never request this information online.
- Refrain from entering sweepstakes that promise freebies, trial periods, or prizes in exchange for a purchase and/or a request for bank card information.
- Inspect the URL of websites being frequented, and only click through to the ones that are secure – specified by a prefix of https, instead of simply http.
- When in doubt, consult with the Better Business Bureau to verify the validity of a company, and to determine if any issues have already been lodged against them.
- Don’t forget: 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, she or he (or a 3rd party) can submit a complaint utilizing the Internet Crime Complaint Center here.
Considering that isolation is a vital factor in an older adult’s chances of being scammed, one step you can take right now to help take care of a lonely senior parent would be to partner with Grace Home Care, the Alzheimer’s care Topeka families trust. Our professional in-home caregivers provide pleasant companionship to improve socialization, transportation to fun activities and excursions, and many other services that empower senior loved ones to live and thrive safely in the home.