We’ve always been familiar with the propensity of frauds aimed towards the elderly – unethical telemarketers who contact those who are frail, isolated, and lonely, befriending them for the purpose of obtaining banking account information and bank card numbers and then depleting funds. Or people who offer contest prizes and freebies as a means to encourage unsuspecting senior citizens to buy unwanted and unneeded merchandise.
Fast forward to today’s scammers, who possess the extra resource of technology to swindle older people. The truth is, in 2018 alone, the FBI reports an astounding $649.2 million lost by older adults to online 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 biggest financial losses were reported in three primary categories:
- Wire transfer requests via email
- Internet romance fraud
- Financial investment schemes
Considering the vast majority of older adults now online – approximately 67%, as reported by the Pew Research Center – awareness is key in making certain older adults remain safe from internet fraud. Talk with the older adults in your life about the latest scams, and discuss the following suggestions to bear in mind in the event a scammer should reach out to them:
- Never give personal and/or financial information to an online solicitor, no matter how “official” the inquiry may sound. The IRS, financial institutions, along with other reputable businesses will never request this info online.
- Refrain from entering into sweepstakes that promise freebies, trial periods, or prizes in exchange for a purchase and/or a request for bank card information.
- Investigate the URL of websites being visited, and only click through to the ones that are secure – specified by a prefix of https, instead of simply http.
- When in doubt, check with the Better Business Bureau to verify the validity of a business, and to determine if any problems have already been lodged against them.
- Don’t forget: if things seem too good to be true, they probably are!
If a family member is exploited by a web-based scammer, she or he (or a 3rd party) can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center here.
Given that loneliness is a crucial element in the possibility of a senior being scammed, one step that is possible to take right now to help safeguard a lonely senior parent is to partner with At-Home Care Company, the Polk County home care experts. Our skilled in-home caregivers provide friendly companionship to enhance socialization, transportation to fun activities and outings, and many more services that enable senior loved ones to live and thrive safely and securely at home.
Help those you love stay safe from internet scams. Reach out to At-Home Care Company’s in-home care professionals. In Ames, contact us at (515) 292-2650 and in Ankeny, we can be reached at (515) 963-4410.