cybersecurity tips for seniors

In keeping with our 2024 theme of living confidently, removing obstacles in your path and powering up your retirement, we’re tackling an unwelcome byproduct of the digital age: senior citizen scams. Swindlers are continuously finding new ways to target older adults online, by mail and over the phone, making senior fraud prevention an essential topic for your safety and well-being.

Beatitudes Campus wants to help you outwit the scammers, allowing you to focus less on worrying about them and more on embracing the joys of life, friendship, learning, creativity, self-expression and celebration. In this blog, we’ll explore common senior scams, telltale signs to look for and scam prevention for seniors.

Protect Yourself: Senior Fraud Prevention Tips To Keep Online Scammers at Bay

In the vast world of information and connection are scammers lurking in cyberspace shadows and waiting to pounce on unsuspecting victims. Common online scams include phishing emails, fake websites and social media scams.

Red flags to watch out for online:

  • Unsolicited emails asking for personal information or money
  • Pop-up ads offering unrealistic prizes or rewards
  • Requests to wire money or purchase gift cards as payment
  • Websites with misspellings or poor grammar
  • Social media messages from unfamiliar accounts urging you to click on links or download files

Online scam prevention for seniors:

  • Be wary of unsolicited emails, messages or requests for personal information.
  • Verify the sender’s identity and legitimacy before clicking on links or providing information online.
  • Protect your online accounts with strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication when possible.
  • Ensure your computer, smartphone and other devices have the latest security updates installed to protect against malware and viruses.
  • Trust your instincts and proceed cautiously if something feels off or too good to be true.

While not as common anymore as online fraud, it’s also important to protect seniors from scams that are postal-related. Common mail scams include fake lottery winnings, charity scams and fraudulent investment offers. Remember, legitimate organizations will only ask you to send money or personal information through the mail with proper verification.

Warning signals to pay attention to:

  • Letters or postcards claiming you’ve won a prize or lottery
  • Requests for donations to unfamiliar charities or causes
  • Unsolicited investment offers promising high returns with little risk
  • Letters with urgent or threatening language demanding immediate action

Ways to avoid mail scams:

  • Dispose of old bills, statements and other documents containing personal information by shredding them before recycling or throwing them away.
  • Research the organization or company before responding to mail offers to ensure they are legitimate.
  • Never provide personal or financial information in response to unsolicited mail.
  • If you receive suspicious mail, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or your local post office.

In addition to online and mail, scammers may be on the other end of the phone line, ready to deceive you with smooth talk and false promises. Common phone scams include fake IRS calls, tech support scams and grandparent scams.

Signs you’re being targeted by a phone scam:

  • Calls from unfamiliar numbers claiming to be government agencies or tech support
  • Requests for payment via wire transfer, gift cards or cryptocurrency
  • Threats of legal action or arrest if payment isn’t made immediately
  • Calls from supposed family members or friends in distress asking for money

Tips for avoiding phone scams:

  • If you receive a call from an unfamiliar number or person, don’t answer, or approach cautiously and skeptically.
  • Ask for the caller’s name, organization and contact information, and verify their identity before providing any information or payment.
  • If you suspect a call is a scam, hang up immediately and report it to the FTC or your local authorities.
  • Reduce the number of unsolicited calls you receive by registering your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry.

Protect Your Loved Ones: What To Do If Your Elderly Parent Is Being Scammed

If you suspect your aging parent is being scammed, there are several steps you can take to help them. Approach the situation gently and talk to your parents about your concerns while listening to their perspectives without judgment. Gather all the information you can about the scam, including any suspicious phone calls, emails or mail they’ve received. You can also contact the bank and/or credit card company to monitor their accounts for unusual activity.

Encourage your loved one to report the scam to the authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission or local law enforcement. Consider seeking support from a trusted family member, friend or advisor to help navigate the situation. AARP also has resources and helpful articles on how to protect seniors from scams and fraud. Remember, being the victim of elderly scams may make your loved one feel embarrassed or ashamed, so offering them reassurance and understanding is vital throughout the process.

Be in the Know

Shielding yourself from fraud might feel overwhelming but fear not. With the right tools and awareness, you can outsmart scammers and navigate your retirement journey with confidence. At Beatitudes Campus, we’re dedicated to empowering residents with knowledge about scams and fraud to ensure their safety. While we can’t promise foolproof protection, we’re committed to providing resources and support to help you avoid potential pitfalls so you can focus on embracing the world of opportunities awaiting you.

Featured Image: Tero Vesalainen / Shutterstock