Introduction To Security Awareness Part 1
Senior Security Awareness 1. Scams targeting older adults are all too common in today’s world. Many scammers think of seniors as prime targets because of their retirement savings or because they may live alone. There are also many outdated and downright inaccurate stereotypes about older adults that make them popular targets.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stay ahead of the fraudsters and avoid getting scammed. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the most common scams that target older adults. So then, you will know exactly what to look out for.
Common Fraud Tactics Used on Seniors
Senior Security Awareness 1. Con artists employ a wide variety of tactics to get older people to fall for their schemes. Below are some to be cautious of:
- Being friendly, approachable, and sympathetic so that the victim feels like the solicitor is on his or her side
- Instilling fear or giving a sense of urgency so people don’t have much time to think or act rationally
- Appearing to be helpful to gain someone’s trust and make that person feel inclined to return a favour later on
- Using emotional arousal to skew proper judgment. And not long ago, researchers at Stanford found that when elderly individuals are in a state of high emotional arousal. Then they become more interested in buying things that are falsely advertised
- Pretending to be associated with a credible company, government agency, or charity to fake legitimacy.
- Being ambiguous about the subject or changing it throughout a conversation to distract the victim
Popular Scams Targeting the Elderly
Senior Security Awareness 1. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) lists the following scams that are most commonly targeted at seniors. Here, review each type below so that you can identify a potential scam. Also, a few other kinds of scams are covered as well.
Health Insurance Scams
Senior Security Awareness 1. Every citizen who is 65 years or older qualifies for Medicare benefits in America. Thus, making the elderly an easy target for medical-related scams. Because scammers don’t have to do extensive research on seniors’ insurance providers. However, they can carry out fraudulent schemes pretty easily via the phone or even at the door. These solicitors typically claim to be a Medicare representative, for example, and do the following:
- Tell a senior that he or she needs a new Medicare card. And to be issued one they would need to provide a Social Security number
- Ask an elderly person to contribute a fee to help navigate the new healthcare landscape
- Tell an older adult that he or she needs new supplemental policies
- Gather personal information provided to bill Medicare and take the money for themselves
Senior Security Awareness 1. Telemarketing scams are one of the most common scams to happen to the elderly. Due to no face-to-face interaction and convincing charades of being an authority figure.
Scammers can hook seniors by pretending to offer:
- Free trials
- Extended warranties
- Can’t-miss investment opportunities
- The chance to travel for cheap or free
- Incredible prizes
- Advance loans
Scammers may also get seniors’ money by representing themselves as:
- IRS agents
- Bank officials
- Family members
One of the worst parts of a telemarketing scam is that if it is successful on someone. The victim’s name will be likely passed on to other con artists as an easy target to prey on.
The best way to prevent falling victim to any telemarketing scheme is to know that any legitimate financial institution. Or large corporations along with agencies, such as the IRS, will not call and ask for personal information over the phone.
Should you receive such calls, it’s best to hang up immediately. And find the direct number of the company claiming to require your information. Then, call to see if it is actually trying to reach you. Below are a few of the most common scams over the phone.
The Pigeon Drop
Senior Security Awareness 1. Basically, a pigeon drop can be distilled to. When a “suspect offers a larger sum of money to the victim in exchange for a smaller sum of money”. There is usually a second or third person in on the scam. Who acts as a lawyer or ‘innocent bystander’ to make the scam more convincing? These are often done in person at tourist spots, but they also occur over the phone often.
If someone contacts you saying that he or she recently inherited money from an uncle. But needs a smaller amount of money from you to transfer the inheritance. So this could be an example of a pigeon drop. You would be promised something like half of the inheritance.
The Fake Accident Scenario
Scammers will call saying that someone related to or known by the victim has been injured. Who is currently in the hospital requiring money to be sent immediately. The scammer often pressures the victim to send the money before verifying the validity of the injury. And its relation to the person who is injured. Another con artist is often involved to act as the police officer, doctor, or lawyer at the scene of the “accident.”
A scam that seems to have arisen in 2017 uses pre-recorded robocalls to get the victim to say, “Yes.” Questions such as, “Are you there?” tend to prompt this answer, and scammers who have someone’s “yes” reply recorded may be able to use that voice signature to put charges on credit cards and the like.
Apps to Help Protect Against Telemarketing Scams
Several free smartphone apps use crowdsourcing to identify phone numbers involved in scams or frauds and that can be automatically blocked. Here are a few of the top caller ID and scam-blocking apps for both Android and iOS.
Hiya – Hiya is one of the most widely used apps for caller ID and blocking spam calls. You can set it to automatically block calls from numbers that have been reported as a scam or spam repeatedly, and block new numbers that scammers use. You can also report the number so others using the app know to avoid it. Android | iOS
Truecaller – This is another reliable and popular app to protect yourself against unwanted calls and to know immediately if a new number is a scam as reported by others who received the same call. Android | iOS
Whoscall – Whoscall has over 1 billion numbers in its database, and the figure constantly increases as users of the app report more and more unknown numbers as spam and scams. Hopefully, this app helps you know when you’re receiving a call from a legit business or a scammer. Android | iOS
To safeguard against robocall scams and telemarketing scams, join the Do Not Call Registry. This way, if you get questionable calls, chances are even higher that they are scams. In addition, when you get a question such as, “Do you hear me?” just hang up. Some callers may encourage you to press “1” to be removed from a call list or to speak with a real person. Don’t do this. It just shows the scammers that you are responsive. Your aim is to avoid engaging at all.
These scams are unfortunate as they prey on the goodwill of others. Scammers either call or approach an elderly individual in person, saying they are looking for donations to a worthy cause. In reality, the perpetrators have nothing to do with the charity or cause and are looking to take the victim’s money for their own gain.
Sometimes the goal is to steal the victim’s identity as well. Charity scams tend to happen most after natural disasters on the international level like a major hurricane or on a local level like helping to fund local firefighters.
The internet has been rife with scams targeting the elderly since its inception. Examples include: fake-virus popups to trick the victims into paying money, real viruses that may hold victims, hostage, until they make a payment, phishing scams and attempts to steal identities through fake websites and emails.
Phishing Scams via Email – Phishing is the main internet method scammers use to get personal information from unsuspecting people through email. The scammer creates an email address and template that looks like an official email from a bank, credit card or other business. The email looks legitimate and claims that your password, banking number, or other personally identifying information is needed to fix an issue.
Pro Tip: Identity theft protection services can help you avoid becoming a victim of online scams and alert you to potential fraud attempts. We’ve put together our picks for the best identity theft protection services to help you find the one that’s right for your needs.
A related scam is to suggest downloading software like a “Free VPN” or “Free Virus Checker”. This software may actually be designed specifically for hackers. Legitimate VPNs and antivirus software are useful tools, here are some resources for selecting a VPN or software used for protection from identity theft and viruses.
No bank or other business will ever ask for any personal information through email. If you are concerned about your account, you can go to the website directly (don’t click on any links in a suspected phishing email), and check your account information there, or call your bank directly.
Tech or Computer Support Scams
Senior Security Awareness 1. Tech or computer support scams tend to be the most successful. In some versions, senior citizens get a call from someone who promises to do tech support on their computers/devices or to clear their computers of viruses, malware and the like. To sweeten the pot, scammers may offer this so-called service at a senior citizen discount. Later, the scammers do rudimentary work such as installing free security programs, and it is possible that seniors never realize they have been scammed. In other versions, scammers use internet ads to entice senior citizens to contact them for help.
Did You Know: Many internet providers offer security suites to protect your computer from viruses and other scams. Head to our list of the best internet providers for seniors to learn more. You can also visit our guide to Internet services for seniors for our top online safety tips.
The primary aim of many scammers doing tech or computer support schemes is to get access to bank account passwords and other sensitive financial information. Because they pose as tech support personnel, they may get permission to link their computer with the victims. Sometimes, the scam turns, very mean immediately when a scammer locks the victim out of his or her computer until a fee is paid. Disengaging from the scammer and restarting your computer may solve the issue sometimes.
Are You a Victim of a Scam?
If you think you might be a victim of a scam, reach out to someone you trust such as a close friend or family member. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone because doing nothing could make the situation worse.
Unfortunately, once money has been wired out, it is more than likely gone. However, that does not mean that there’s nothing left for you to do. Other senior victims are counting on you to report the details so that the scams can be shut down. The AARP breaks down a handy list of resources that are useful to keep readily available. Additionally, keep the phone numbers for your local police station and bank close by.
This is part 1 of a 2-part blog post. Con artists and scammers who prey on the elderly rely on two key things: The assumption that the elderly are unfamiliar with modern technology and that the elderly are unaware of all the different ways to have their personal information stolen.
This guide covers most of the scams that target seniors, but it always helps to be aware of anyone and anything trying to get money or personal information out of you.
Whenever you feel the least bit suspicious of an email, phone call, personal visit or anything else, you can try a simple Google search about your suspicion. If the search pulls up something, then you’ll know for a fact it is a scam to report and then ignore. If nothing comes up, it could be a new scam or one that hasn’t been well documented. Be safe and aware!
Important Note *
Remember that everyone is different, it is ultimately YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to find what your body responds to. So please do your due diligence before trying anything new, including getting Medical Advice to ensure your safety and peace of mind.
Connect with me and leave a comment or two on my social media.