Only a few year ago only a small percentage of senior citizens were using computers and the internet. But a recent survey has shown that now over 90% of pensioners are going online at least once a week to surf the internet, send emails and use social media. Unfortunately this increase of usage by the elderly has left them open to falling for online scams. The survey revealed that 67% percent had been a victim for some sort of online scam and 38% had reported an attempted scam. The scammers are now actively targeting the elderly online as their more trusting nature perceives them as being more likely to fall for the scammers tricks.
According to the National Cyber Security Alliance these are the top online scams that senior citizens need to be on the look out for.
- Tech support scams: These types of scams can appear as “pop-ups,” that show up on computer screens and look like legitimate offers from reputable companies such as Microsoft. They could be selling fake software or asking for remote computer access, or install malware to steal personal and financial information.
- Tax scams: The tax season provides another window of opportunity for online fraudsters. One tax scam being perpetrated by email as well as mail is an official-looking notice demanding that an immediate payment be sent.
- Ransomware: This is a malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. Prevent ransomware by ensuring your system has an up-to-date antivirus system. Also, never open suspicious emails from unknown senders, do not download attachments from senders you do not trust or suspicious emails, and avoid clicking on links in suspicious emails.
- False debt collectors: False debt collection emails often come as official-looking documents and the tone of the emails may be threatening and urgent. Do not respond, open any attachments or click on any links. Delete these emails. If you’re concerned about whether you owe money, contact any creditors directly to find out if they sent the emails.
- Sweepstakes scams: A sweepstakes scam often asks you to pay to receive your prize. Another version of this is a charity scam, asking you to help those in need. Sweepstakes and charities scams prey on emotions, and scam charities may have names similar to real charities. However, they usually cannot provide important documentation of their identity and mission, nor provide proof of tax-deductible contribution. If you believe the charity is legitimate, you can check it out by looking up the number and calling it.
Other scams for seniors to look out for include the old favourite Nigerian 419 scams, dating scams and courier delivery scams. The best advise is if you are not sure don’t send any money or click on anything you’re not sure about until you have fully checked the legitimacy of the agency or people asking you to do so.