We’ve always been familiar with the propensity of frauds directed at older adults – suspicious telemarketers who reach out to individuals who are frail, isolated, and lonely, befriending them for the purpose of obtaining bank account information and charge card numbers and then wiping out finances. Or folks who promise contest prizes and freebies as a way to lure unsuspecting older adults to buy unwanted and unnecessary products.
Skip forward to today’s scammers, who possess the additional tool of technology to swindle older adults. Believe it or not, in 2018 alone, the FBI claims an astounding $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 greatest financial losses were documented in three main groups:
- Wire transfer requests via email
- Internet dating fraud
- Investment schemes
With the vast majority of older adults now online – approximately 67%, according to research by the Pew Research Center – awareness is key in making sure seniors remain safe from online elder fraud. Consult with senior loved ones about the latest scams, and discuss the following suggestions to bear in mind in case a scammer should reach out to them:
- Never supply personal and/or financial information to an online solicitor, regardless of how “official” the request may appear. The IRS, banking institutions, and other reputable businesses would not request these details online.
- Avoid entering into sweepstakes that advertise freebies, trial periods, or prizes in exchange for a purchase and/or a request for credit card information.
- Check the URL of websites being visited, and only click through to those that are secure – designated by a prefix of https, rather than simply http.
- When in doubt, speak with the Better Business Bureau to ensure the legitimacy of an organization, and to discover if any issues have been lodged against them.
- Always remember: if things seem too good to be true, they probably are!
If a loved one should be exploited by an online scammer, he or she (or a third party) can submit a claim with the Internet Crime Complaint Center here.
Since loneliness is a crucial factor in a senior’s possibility of being scammed, one step you can easily take right now to help take care of a lonely senior loved one is to partner with Morning Glory Home Care, the leaders in Shiloh home health care. Our professional in-home caregivers provide pleasant companionship to enhance socialization, transportation to fun events and outings, and many other services that enable the elderly to live and thrive safely at home.