Phones and the Internet have become integral to everyday life. Seniors are better versed in technology than ever. Yet, seniors' tech safety is more at risk than ever. Scammers that become savvier every day are targeting seniors. It's no longer easy to identify fraud when it calls or emails you.
The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging has a Fraud Hotline dedicated to solving this problem. Over the past year, more than 1,500 individuals all across the country contacted the Hotline. Since 2013, more than 8,200 individuals from all 50 states have reported a possible scam. Now consider the number of cases that aren't reported. The toll-free Fraud Hotline is 1-855-303-9470. This is a valuable resource for seniors and others affected by scams.
The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging's Top 10 Most-Reported Scams:
- IRS Impersonation Scam
- Robocalls / Unsolicited Phone Calls
- Sweepstakes Scam / Jamaican Lottery Scam
- Computer Tech Support Scams
- Elder Financial Abuse
- Grandparent Scams
- Romance Scams
- Social Security Impersonation Scam
- Impending Lawsuit Scam
- Identity Theft
Seniors should never have to feel like they are at risk because they choose to age in the comfort of their own home. But, they may be more vulnerable to these scams if they don't have friends or family that check in with them. That's part of the benefit of Seniors Helping Seniors(R) in-home care services. Our caregivers can keep family and friends informed of a seniors' wellness.
Seniors that want to take charge of their tech safety can get educated and take action. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has tips for avoiding computer or phone-based scams:
- Do not give control of your computer to a third party that calls you out of the blue.
- Do not rely on caller ID to authenticate a caller. Criminals can "spoof" or fabricate legitimate caller ID numbers. A "spoofed" number may appear to be local or from a recognizable company, while actually in a different country.
- If you want to contact tech support, be sure you're using the correct number. A company's contact information is usually on its software package or on your receipt.
- Be careful with your credit card or financial information. Never give it to someone who calls and claims to be from tech support.
- Update all your computer's anti-virus software, firewalls, and popup blockers.
The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging also has tips to secure your identity:
- Medicare and Social Security will not call to ask for your bank account information or SSN.
- There will never be a fee charged to get a Social Security or Medicare card.
- Social Security numbers do not get suspended.
- Never give out personal information over the phone.
- Keep sensitive personal and financial documents secure at all times.
- Don't be afraid to call SSA's Inspector General at their toll-free number (1-800-772-1213) to verify the caller/request.
According to Pew Research Center, 40% of the Silent Generation (ages 74 - 91) own smartphones. This number jumps to 68% when you look at the number of Baby Boomers (ages 55 - 73). The number of seniors affected by tech scams is only going to increase with time. Since 2012, use of Facebook has grown fastest among older generations (Pew Research Center). The best time to learn how to avoid these scams is now.