We’ve long been familiar with the propensity of frauds aimed at older adults – unscrupulous telemarketers who reach out to those people who are frail, isolated, and lonely, befriending them for the purpose of obtaining bank account information and charge card numbers and then wiping out funds. Or those who offer contest prizes and freebies as a way to entice unsuspecting senior citizens to buy unwanted and unnecessary products.
Skip forward to today’s scammers, who possess the additional resource of technology to swindle older adults. Believe it or not, in 2018 alone, the FBI reports a stunning $649.2 million lost by seniors to internet scams.
According to 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 greatest financial losses were documented in three primary classifications:
- Wire transfer requests via email
- Internet romance fraud
- Investment schemes
Considering the vast majority of older adults now online – roughly 67%, according to research by the Pew Research Center – knowledge is necessary in ensuring seniors remain safe from internet scams. Talk with the older adults in your life about current scams, and discuss the online safety tips listed here, in case a scammer should reach out to them:
- Do not offer personal and/or financial information to an online solicitor, no matter how “official” the inquiry may sound. The IRS, banking institutions, along with other reputable businesses will never request this info online.
- Avoid entering into sweepstakes which promise freebies, trial periods, or prizes in exchange for a purchase and/or a request for charge card information.
- Look at 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, consult with the Better Business Bureau to confirm the validity of a company, and to find out if any issues have already been lodged against them.
- Always remember: if things seem too good to be true, they probably are!
If a loved one is victimized by a web-based scammer, he or she (or a third party) can register a claim through the Internet Crime Complaint Center here.
Considering that isolation is an integral element in the possibility of an older adult being scammed, one action you can take today to help take care of a lonely senior family member is to partner with Compassionate Nursing Service, the respite care St. Louis leaders. Our reliable in-home caregivers provide friendly companionship to enhance socialization, transportation to fun activities and excursions, and many more services that enable older adults to live and thrive safely at home.
Help those you love remain safe from internet scams; email or call Compassionate Nursing Service’s in-home care professionals at 314-432-4312.