Online scams that prey on seniors are plentiful. Fraudsters use the internet as a tool to gain private information and access to money. Here are common scams targeting seniors – and strategies to combat them.
- You owe money scam/You won the lottery scam: Demanding fraudsters claim to be a bill collector or a government agency that you owe money to, but it’s common for these aggressive scammers to send phony “bills” to people who don’t owe anything. Don’t respond unless you can confirm legitimacy in another way. If you receive a pop-up or message saying you won the lottery, do not click the link. This is a common way for criminals to gain banking information when pretending to “transfer the lottery winnings” to you.
- Personal emergency scam: Scammer email or post social media messages that appear to be from a contact, saying their wallet was stolen, they were arrested, or were in some other form of trouble. To verify, reach out to the person or someone close to them by other means. This person’s account was likely hacked by a criminal trying to steal money.
- Online dating scam: While people do find love online, other have been scammed by flattering con artists who are vague about personal details. If someone asks for money, no matter how genuine they seem, be wary.
- Use strong and unique passwords. Never share them, except for someone you trust to manage your accounts. Avoid using names, birthdates, and anything easy to guess.
- Utilize privacy settings. Most services let you control who can see what you post, such as limiting specific posts to specific people. Smartphones can also restrict who can access your location, contacts, and other personal information.