Common Scams/Threats Affecting Senior Citizens
Identity theft is one of the most common forms of cyber attacks many fall victim to. In this kind of attack, scammers gain access to your credit card details, bank account information, phone number, address, social security number, and other personal and financial information. When they get their hands on such information, they will use the stolen information for monetary benefits by impersonating the person from whom they stole the information.
Phishing is another common cyber attack aimed at senior citizens. In this attack, cybercriminals get in touch with potential victims by posing as a legitimate online service. They might claim to have contacted you from your bank and request sensitive financial information. Attackers could either send a phishing email or text message that appears just like the bank’s official email or message and trick you into providing sensitive information.
Online Shopping Scams
While there are several legitimate online shopping websites, there are also a lot of fake ecommerce websites on the internet. Scammers look out for vulnerable senior citizens who are unaware of fake websites and also unable to differentiate between genuine and spammy websites. When you pay for a product on one such website, you might never receive the product, or it may come with hidden charges, where you will be asked to pay extra to get the product. To prevent yourself from becoming a victim of consumer fraud, you will need to make sure that the website is genuine before paying and making a purchase.
Senior citizens often become victims of charity or investment scams, scams related to anti-aging products, senior dating, etc. They could also receive requests for financial help from scammers who pose as their friends or family members. Many elders who believe that these requests are real end up becoming victims of such scams.
Online Safety Tips for Seniors
1. Set Strong and Unique Passwords
It is mandatory to set strong and unique passwords for all your online accounts. It is wise to avoid reusing passwords and easily guessable passwords that include your name, date of birth, etc. Strong passwords are the ones that are long and have a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. You can use a password manager to create and store your passwords if you believe you cannot remember them all, but do not share your passwords with anyone.
2. Do Not Share Your Personal Information With Anyone
Banks and other genuine online services never ask their users to share their sensitive information over the phone or email. So if at all you receive an email or a phone call requesting sensitive financial information, which includes your banking details, credit card info, social social security number, etc., you must ignore the email and must not share the requested information. If you believe it might be from the bank itself, you get in touch with the bank and make sure the request is genuine before you provide your sensitive information.
3. Avoid Fake Offers and Fake Coupon Codes
If you come across an offer, which is too good to be true, then it could most likely be a fraudulent offer. Genuine websites come up with offers and decent discounts once in a while. While you can trust such offers, you need to be aware of fake offers. Be it insurance, medicines, or a product you use every day, if you come across an unbelievable offer or discount, do not believe it! Likewise, never share your financial information or other banking details to claim an offer or to apply a discount code. The best thing you can do is to avoid clicking on links in emails and text messages. Instead, you can shop from genuine websites by directly visiting the website.
4. Post Only What is Necessary on Social Media
If you are someone who uses social media, you need to be careful about what you post and share. Before you post or share something, make sure the info you post cannot be used against you. Likewise, do not trust anyone who you virtually meet and avoid sharing too many personal details with them. Avoid requests from strangers and avoid making friends with random individuals online.