Senior Citizens Holding Hands

Cyber criminals often target aging adults, believing they are more likely to fall for online scams like phishing, online fraud, and identity theft. Learning how to protect your personal information online and how to spot a scam, is just as important as learning how to use the latest technology. According to the Department of Homeland Security, seniors are defrauded at twice the rate of the rest of the population.

67% of US seniors have been the victim or target of at least one online scam or hack. Below are some of the most common scams targeting seniors.

Grandparent Scam

How it works: A scammer emails you posing as a grandchild in distress. They describe their dire problem (car crash, arrest, need a lawyer, overdue rent, etc.) They ask for money to get them out of trouble. The scammer asks them not to tell anyone. “Please don’t tell my parents, they’ll kill me.”

Never pay in this situation. Don’t respond to the email. Delete it and then call your grandkids to verify that they’re okay.

Tech Support Scam

Check out one of our previous blogs on tech support scams.

Lottery Scam

How it works: You receive an email telling you you’re a lottery winner. You’re asked to enter your credit card number to cover administrative fees. The winnings may actually show up in your account only to be removed when the “winning” check is found to be fake.

These scams often claim you have won a foreign lottery. Be wary of any email that mentions a lottery win. Remember, the odds of winning the lottery are microscopic.

Fake Charities

The FBI found 4600 fake websites trying to scam donations following Hurricane Katrina.

How it works: A natural disaster happens. Fake charities send emails to you asking for donations. They may pose as a legitimate charity or make up their own identity. There is no apparent identification or authorization. You end up donating with your credit card, only to find out later they drained your bank account.

Be wary of any charity that asks you to send money overseas, only use authorized sites to donate, and avoid any charity that refuses to provide detailed information about its identity, mission, costs, and how the donations will be used.

More Tips

The Department of Homeland Security encourages older Americans to follow these three tips to be safe online:

Beware of free gifts or prizes. If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

Most businesses or organizations don’t ask for personal information over email. They will NEVER ask for financial information over email. Beware of any requests to update or confirm your personal information through email.

Only add people you know on social media sites. Adding strangers could expose you and your personal information to scammers.

For more information, visit: www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect