Tips for seniors to avoid being victims of cyber scams

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Special to the
Opelika Observer

Senior citizens are losing roughly $2.9 billion because of cyber-scams each year. Reclaiming accounts, dealing with the fraud departments, and resetting passwords is a complicated and stressful process that no one should have to experience.
Impact of Cybercrime on Senior Citizens
The United States Senate Special Committee on Aging estimates senior citizens are losing $2.9 billion each year due to scams targeting seniors
Cyber criminals target people over the age of 60 more than any other age group. Out of the 257,667 reported cyber crimes in 2018, people over the age of 60 were victim to more than 62,000 crimes (24%).
The average loss per scam reported for people 50 and older is about $30,150. According to the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

  • People ages 50 to 59 lost an average of $13,400
  • People ages 60 to 69 lost about $22,700
  • People ages 70 to 79 lost the most, an average $45,300
  • People 80 and older lost $39,200 on average.
    According to a survey by Home Instead, a home caregiver network for senior citizens, 67% of seniors have been scammed online.
    The FBI declares senior citizens, those born in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s, are targeted because:
  • they are more likely to have excellent credit and a hefty savings account.
  • they were raised to be polite and trusting.
  • they are less likely to report being scammed because they don’t want their loved ones thinking they are not mentally capable of managing their money.
    Scams targeting seniors, also known as ‘elderly scams,’ are often found on social media or in emails.
    Essential guide to digital theft
    Phishing Scams
    How to spot them:
    • Seemingly legitimate email or pop-up requesting personal info, password or to install software
    • May come from known legitimate email contacts, or senders disguised to look like family and friends
    • Usually unsolicited, comes without warning
    How to avoid them:
    • Do not click links or respond to email
    • Delete email and/or block sender
    • If the email is coming from a known contact in your address book, call them at a known phone number to warn them they are being impersonated by a scammer
    Tech Support Scams
    How to spot them:
    • Unsolicited emails, calls or pop-up windows offering tech support
    • Request for access to your device (passwords, personal information)
    • Insistence that your computer has been “hacked” and only they can help you
    How to avoid them:
    • Ignore emails, calls or pop-ups that say your computer is infected
    • Do not share personal or financial information with strangers.
    • Do not share passwords
    Ransom for File Scams
    How to spot it:
    • Computer suddenly locked and you can’t access files
    • Receive a message requesting money or they will delete your files
    • Unable to use computer or close ransom message even after restarting
    How to avoid it:
    •Keep a secure backup of your device to avoid file loss
    • Remember that there is no guarantee that paying ransom will return files
    • File a police report
    Online Dating Scams
    How to spot it:
    • Online suitor quickly professes their love for you without meeting in person
    • Will not meet in person for various reasons
    • Requests money or personal information to solve a pressing problem
    How to avoid it:
    • Do not share personal information or payments with online dates
    • Frequent spelling errors or early declaration of love is a red flag
    • Report fraudulent or suspected accounts
    Family Member in Trouble Scams
    How to spot it:
    • Email or message that appears to come from a family member in trouble
    • Request for immediate payment, usually via wire transfer
    • Message will have family member’s name attached and appear legitimate
    How to avoid it:
    • Call family member at a known phone number to verify they are okay
    • Do not send money or share financial information via email, phone or messaging
    • Delete any emails or messages from attacker
    For more information visit www.inmyarea.com/resources/online-cybersecurity-safety-guides-seniors.

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