Every year, as online shopping intensifies in the weeks leading up to the holidays, so do online scams designed for the elderly. This season – in many ways unprecedented – is no different in this regard. In fact, COVID-19, zoom appointments, vaccination recommendations and travel warnings, all provide a broad and unique precedent for social engineering attacks.
Unsurprisingly, cybercriminals are often targeted at those who are less able to defend themselves. It could be those without antivirus protection, young internet users or, unfortunately, your elderly loved ones. God The FBI reported Nearly $ 1 billion in scams targeting the elderly by 2020, with the average victim losing nearly $ 10,000.
This holiday season, you may want to talk to elderly relatives about targeting them online. Whether they are veteran, vigilant technology users or still learning things like text messaging, chat forums, e-mail and online shopping, it would not hurt to build an understanding of some of the most common online scams.
The most common types of online scams for the elderly
According to the FBI, these are some of the most common online scams aimed at the elderly. While a handful of common scams against senior citizens are committed in person, most are made possible or more compelling by the use of technology.
- Romantic scams: Criminals impersonating romantic partners are interested in social media or dating sites to exploit the desire of their elderly victims to find companions.
- Technical Support Scams: Criminals impersonate technology support representatives and offer to fix non-existent computer problems. Scammers gain remote access to victims’ devices and sensitive information.
- Grandpa and Grandma scams: Criminals impersonate a relative – usually a child or grandchild – who claims to be in immediate financial need.
- Government impersonation scams: Criminals impersonate government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute victims unless they agree to provide funds or other payments.
- Lottery / Charity / Lottery Scams: Criminals claim they work for legitimate charities to win the trust of victims. Or they claim that their targets have won a foreign lottery or a lottery, which they can collect for a “fee”.
All of the above are examples of “trust scams,” or tricks in which a cybercriminal assumes a false identity in order to gain the trust of his potential victims. Because they are the basis for phishing attacks, trust scams are very familiar to those working in the cyber security industry.
While romantic scams are a mainstay among fraud attempts against the elderly, scheduled methods are more popular today. AARP lists Phrases and phishing and vaccination card scams against COVID-19 are the ones to watch out for right now. Fake online shopping sites are popping up at this time of year, becoming more and more reliable, according to the group.
Tips to Prevent Online Elderly Scams
Given that the bulk of seniority scams occur online, it’s not surprising that some of the FBI’s top prevention tips include some degree of cyber awareness.
Here are some top FBI tips:
- Identify attempted fraud and terminate any communication with the offender.
- Search the Internet for contact information (name, email, phone number, addresses) and the proposed offer. Other people have probably posted information online about people and businesses trying to run scams.
- Resist the pressure to act quickly. Scammers create a sense of urgency to produce fear and entice victims to immediate action. Call the police immediately if you feel there is danger to yourself or a loved one.
- Never provide or send personally identifiable information, money, jewelry, gift cards, checks or transfer information to unverified individuals or businesses.
- Make sure all your antivirus and security software and malware are up to date. Use antivirus software and familiar firewalls.
- Disconnect from the Internet and turn off your device if you see a pop-up message or a locked screen. Pop-ups are regularly used by criminals to spread malware. Enable pop-up blockers to prevent accidental clicking of a pop-up window.
- Be careful what you download. Never open an email attachment from someone you do not know and beware of email attachments sent to you.
- Take precautions to protect your identity if a criminal gains access to your device or account. Contact your financial institutions immediately to place protections on your accounts. Track your accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.
Click to act quickly is a hallmark of social engineering scams. It should sound alarm bells and it is important to let it know older friends or family members. Using the internet as a tool for self-defense, as recommended in the second ball, is also a smart game. But most of all, do not ignore the importance of helping senior loved ones install an antivirus solution on their home computers. These can limit the damage of any successful scam in important ways.
Do not wait until it is too late. Protect the seniors in your life from online scams this holiday season. You can just save them significant money and hassle.
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