An Overview Of Why Seniors Are Targeted By Phishing Fraudsters In Cybersecurity
By Tom Seest
At BestCybersecurityNews, we help young learners and seniors learn more about cybersecurity.
Many seniors are being targeted by scams aimed at taking away their hard-earned money or personal information. Criminals posing as health care or Medicare representatives to gain access to victims’ financial details or even steal credit card account numbers to use fraudulent purchases.
Senior citizens, in particular, can be especially vulnerable to scams that target senior citizens due to having substantial savings and assets such as their homes. Financial institutions should encourage customers to review their credit reports and bills in order to identify suspicious activity and potential victims.
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Table Of Contents
- Are There Government Impersonation Scams Targeting Seniors In Cybersecurity?
- Are There Online Account Verification Scams Targeting Seniors In Cybersecurity?
- Are There Lottery Or Sweepstakes Scams Targeting Seniors In Cybersecurity?
- Are There Dating App Or Social Media Scams Targeting Seniors In Cybersecurity?
- Are There Investment Scams Targeting Seniors In Cybersecurity?
- Are There Phone Scams Targeting Seniors In Cybersecurity?
The federal government has issued a warning about seniors being targeted by scammers posing as government officials, who attempt to impersonate government officials and threaten arrest or withhold benefits unless payment is received immediately. Other scams involve identity theft – an issue especially troubling to older people as they may feel powerless to report fraud and may feel helpless against its effects.
The FBI issued a warning about scammers using calls, emails and texts to steal personal data from unsuspecting victims through scams known as phishing, vishing and smishing attacks that usually target older adults. Seniors are particularly susceptible to these scams since they tend to have less technological awareness while having substantial savings, valuable possessions and long credit histories that make them easy prey. Furthermore, seniors tend to trust more easily with others while some cognitive or physical impairments make exercising sound judgment more challenging for them.
Government impersonation scams typically involve threats to cut off Social Security or Medicare benefits, with another popular variation called grandparent scam where fraudsters call and claim that one of their grandchildren has been involved in criminal activities and ask the victim for personal identifying information or money “to assist.” Furthermore, scammers use social media and email to target those living with Alzheimer’s or other serious health conditions.
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Fraudsters may use online account verification scams to gain access to you or an elderly family member’s personal information, and then steal credit card and bank account numbers, passwords and more in order to commit identity theft or fraud and make purchases using stolen identities.
Elderly victims who fall for this type of scam often do not report it for fear of embarrassment and shame, yet could face financial hardship as a result. If you suspect a loved one has been scammed, contact Adult Protective Services immediately as well as Aura Protection System so as to keep their identity safe from potential attacks such as phishing and identity theft.
Scammers targeting seniors may impersonate government agencies like Medicare, the IRS or Social Security in an attempt to obtain personal or tax data – leading them to call or email victims falsely claiming they owe taxes or require personal details – demanding immediate payment or even threatening to cut off benefits altogether.
Some older adults can fall victim to advance fee scams, which require victims to pay an up-front fee in exchange for something, like an inheritance. Scammers usually target older adults through computers, phones and other digital devices.
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Scammers frequently demand payment with means that can’t be reversed, such as gift cards and money transfers, which means if someone falls victim, their losses may never be recovered.
Seniors, in particular, can be particularly susceptible to this form of fraud. Criminals may pose as trustworthy financial advisors in order to steal their hard-earned savings and assets.
Fraudsters may impersonate loved ones of victims to gain trust and persuade them to send money, including children or grandchildren. Some criminals will call the victim’s home to make their scam more convincing or pretend they’re law enforcement officers or doctors in order to convince them to send funds.
Another form of scam involves fraudulent sweepstakes or lottery schemes. Fraudsters will usually attempt to convince their victims that they’ve won an amazing prize or jackpot but require them to pay taxes, shipping charges and processing fees in order to claim it – an alarm bell since real sweepstakes are usually free, with luck playing its part only if one succeeds in winning it all!
Many scams targeting seniors involve falsely representing themselves as representatives from government agencies such as Medicare or the IRS. Criminals will then attempt to dupe their targets into giving personal data in exchange for tax refunds; or request payments using methods that cannot be reversed, like wire transfer.
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Seniors often fall prey to online dating scams, where fraudsters pose as potential matches and lure victims with false personas. Scammers use details from publicly available profiles of their potential targets, such as age and location; their Social Security number to access accounts where money can be stolen from; they ask victims to transfer large sums of cash directly into their bank accounts for “safekeeping,” often demanding additional payments used for fraudulent purposes over months or even years.
Seniors who become victims of scams typically lose an average of $500 or more, feeling powerless, vulnerable and ashamed as a result. It’s important to remind seniors they are not alone in this experience and should seek support from family and other trusted individuals in times of difficulty.
Fraudulent tech support companies are another common scam targeting seniors. Telemarketers will typically claim they have found viruses on the victim’s computer, offer to remove them and request payment through credit card details. Seniors should join a national registry such as Do Not Call which will protect them from unwanted calls from telemarketers while monitoring credit and bank accounts for suspicious activity.
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Investment scams can deprive seniors of their savings. Criminals will use emails, calls, or texts to lure seniors into investing with risky or unfamiliar companies; sometimes even pretending to be trusted financial advisors to collect transaction fees or take over “investments.”
Investment fraud takes many forms, but here are a few tricks to look out for. First of all, be wary if anything seems too good to be true – financial markets are heavily regulated, so any legitimate investment professionals must publicly announce their license information and any person offering you money should provide you with a clear prospectus and risk disclosures.
If you feel pressured into investing right away, this should be taken as a warning sign. Fraudsters may create the appearance of urgency by emphasizing how quickly the product is selling or how many people have already purchased it – this tactic helps build credibility while making you more certain that making a purchase decision would be appropriate.
Be wary of any unsolicited email that requests personal or bank login details from you or a loved one, since scammers could use this data to steal their identity and empty their bank account. To protect them, consider investing in an account monitoring service that alerts you of suspicious activity in their accounts; additionally, such services provide security against cybercriminals who could exploit leaked data from large-scale hacks to steal identities and money from people like your loved ones.
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Senior citizens can be targeted by phone scammers because they tend to trust others more readily, have substantial savings and valuable possessions, or may suffer cognitive or physical impairments that prevent them from using sound judgment. Furthermore, elderly individuals are less likely to report fraud as they fear they’re seen as incompetent.
Scammers may pose as law enforcement officers, doctors, or grandchildren in order to convince seniors to send money quickly – this practice is known as impersonation scamming. No legitimate government agency, business, or organization would ever contact an individual out of the blue and ask for money or personal details over the phone.
Tech support scams often target seniors, tricking them into downloading fraudulent anti-virus or virus scanning programs that provide access to personal data on the senior’s computer and may then access personal information or steal money or credit card numbers from them.
Another frequent fraudster technique involves approaching elderly victims via email or text and telling them that they’ve won a prize from a lottery or sweepstakes, before asking for their Social Security number or account information in order to verify their identities.
Charity scams are an ever-present threat for seniors, often in the form of fake charities that scam them out of considerable amounts of money. To protect yourself from these schemes, check charities with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance before giving.
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Please share this post with your friends, family, or business associates who may encounter cybersecurity attacks.