While there remains an ongoing stereotype that seniors no nothing about computers and have very little understanding of how to do anything online, the truth is that large numbers of American seniors work, socialize, and get information online just like younger Americans.
As with most things in life, the Internet serves as a blessing and a curse. It’s a great way for seniors to meet, talk, share ideas, and maybe even get involved in a fantasy football league or two. But the Internet also serves as a tool for people to create a range of scams and frauds targeted directly at seniors.
Seniors and Identity Theft
It’s important to keep in mind that online fraud comes in a range of shapes and sizes. Past scams have targeted seniors in an effort to steal their Social Security disability checks. These scams have taken the form of offers for discounted medical benefits, free airline tickets, gift giveaways, and much more. Many of these online frauds have one goal in mind—identity theft.
The AARP reported a scam that featured emailers offering a $1000 AARP Giveaway:
“The goal of all these cons is to get you to click through to websites to “claim” your free gift card. But instead you’re told you have to provide contact information and you’re usually required to complete a consumer survey. At the site of the bogus AARP offer, you’re asked about such things as your household income, credit and debit card ownership, level of credit card debt and any medical conditions that you have.”
The people posing as the AARP (and other con-artists like them) use these email phishing scams to either claim your personal information for themselves or to sell that info on to someone else. It’s important not to give out your information in these cases. Most of us were taught to be trusting, but when it comes to email, a little bit of skepticism can go a long way.
Protecting Yourself from Online Fraud:
There are a number of precautions you can take to protect yourself against online fraud. A number of seniors think the best way to avoid it is to simply not go online. However, just because you didn’t enter your personal information on a computer, it doesn’t mean that information isn’t out there. There are a number of public and government records that exist online whether you put them there or not. That doesn’t mean you can’t take some steps to help prevent online fraud, though.
The folks who work with the Washington State Attorney General have put together a pretty strong list of tips for seniors to stay safer online.
Here are just a few of them:
· Never trust a link sent to you by someone you don’t know.
· Never trust an e-mail that asks for your personal or account information.
· The smarter scams often contain text warning you against fraud.
· Never respond – or even open an email with a deal that is too good to be true unless it is from a company that you know well and expect to get these kinds of offers from them.
Taking steps to prevent online fraud is crucial.
Even with all the prevention in the world, though, you can still fall victim to online fraud targeted at seniors. If you are the victim of online fraud, it is vital that you report it. There are those that can help you, and these reports can prevent the same thing from happening to someone else in the future.
Andrew Miller is an experienced Social Media expert and Author. He has worked in marketing for over a decade and finds his passion in bringing concepts to life for the world to enjoy. He is also an avid blogger and currently working on a book with his wife about social entrepreneurship. He is a true Socialpreneur and finds that his goal in life is to be an agent for positive social change through both his writing and business endeavors.