Online Financial Scams that Target Seniors

    More technology in our everyday lives has lead to an increase in scams and fraudulent practices, particularly among seniors. While scammers target a variety of age groups, there are a few reasons the elderly tend to be more susceptible. Seniors don’t always have the same level of skill with technology, and those who spend a good amount of time by themselves may feel isolated, leading them to more readily trust others.

    One general best practice for avoiding these scams is by protecting your computers, phones, and other devices with antivirus software. You’ll also want to remember that scammers will try to rush you into making a decision, no matter what scam they are trying to pull on you. Avoid rushing into a decision by thinking things through and taking your time to do some research. 

    If you’re a senior looking to protect yourself from online financial scams or a caregiver looking to protect an aging loved one from these scams, here are some common scams and how to recognize them: 

    Tech-support Scams: 

    One of the most common internet financial scam you’ll find is the infamous tech-support scam. Usually, these scams take the form of a pop-up on your computer or tablet and make you think your device has a virus or other form of malware. They will often include a phone number for you to call, but keep in mind that real tech companies won’t notify you if you have a virus on your device — normally you’re the one that needs to contact them first. If you become a target of this type of scam, stop what you’re doing on your device and call a trusted tech company for their assistance. 

    “You’ve Won…” Scams: 

    Lottery scams or “You’ve won…” scams can take many forms. You may get them in the mail or over the phone, but they’re also known to come through emails or pop-ups online. If you haven’t entered to win anything, more than likely it’s a scam. To avoid falling for this, keep a list of what you have entered to win, and if you get an email or pop-up saying you’ve won something you haven’t entered, you’ll know it’s a fraud. 

    Charity Scams: 

    With more and more organizations online these days, it can be hard to know which ones are legitimate. If you’ve come across a charity somehow (whether through an email, Facebook page, or anywhere else online), be sure to do your research. Sites like The Charity Navigator keep records of legitimate charities, so check there or do some Google searches to make sure the charity is real before donating to it. 

    Investment Scams:  

    Wanting to make a little extra money through investing isn’t a bad thing, as long as you know what you’re investing in isn’t a fraud. When determining if an investment is actually a scam, consider what the scammer is saying the potential outcome will be. No one can predict the success of anything, and if there is a guarantee the investment will perform well, it’s more than likely a scam. 

    For an overview of more common financial scams and how to recognize and avoid falling for them, check out this infographic from below. 

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