We’ve always been familiar with the tendency of frauds aimed at the elderly – unscrupulous telemarketers who reach out to individuals who are frail, isolated, and lonely, befriending them for the purpose of obtaining banking account information and bank card numbers and then wiping out funds. Or people who promise contest prizes and freebies as a means to tempt unsuspecting seniors to buy unwanted and unneeded things.
Fast forward to today’s scammers, who possess the additional resource of technology to swindle older adults. The truth is, in 2018 alone, the FBI claims a staggering $649.2 million lost by the elderly to internet fraud.
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 monetary losses were documented in three primary categories:
- Wire transfer requests via email
- Internet romance fraud
- Investment schemes
Considering the vast majority of older adults now online – about 67%, according to the Pew Research Center – knowledge is key in guaranteeing senior loved ones stay safe from internet scams. Consult with the older adults you know about the latest scams, and share the following tips to be aware of in the event a scammer should contact them:
- Do not offer personal and/or financial data to an internet solicitor, regardless of how “official” the inquiry may appear. The IRS, financial institutions, as well as other reliable companies won’t ever ask for this information online.
- Try to avoid entering into sweepstakes that promise freebies, trial periods, or prizes in exchange for a purchase and/or a request for credit card information.
- Investigate the URL of websites being visited, and only click through to the ones that are secure – designated by a prefix of https, instead of simply http.
- When in doubt, seek the advice of the Better Business Bureau to verify the legitimacy of a company, and to see if any problems have already been lodged against them.
- Bear in mind that if things seems too good to be true, they probably are!
If a senior loved one is victimized by a web-based scammer, he or she (or a third party) can submit a complaint through the Internet Crime Complaint Center here.
Given that loneliness is a crucial element in an older adult’s probability of being scammed, one step you can take right now to help protect a lonely senior family member would be to partner with Hearts at Home In-Home Care, the home health care Kansas City experts. Our knowledgeable in-home caregivers provide pleasant companionship to improve socialization, transportation to fun events and outings, and many other services that enable older adults to live and thrive safely and securely in the home.
Assist those you love to remain safe from internet scams; contact Hearts at Home In-Home Care’s in-home care experts at 913-440-4209 to learn more about our services in Overland Park and the surrounding communities.