According to AARP annual technology survey, 2020 was the year that older adults adopted, updated and modernized in technological terms. They even spent a lot of money to ‘catch up’ and stay connected.
These numbers reveal not only an exponential increase in the use of smart devices, but also an increased vulnerability to scammers. For some, the use of technological devices is something more natural, however, for older adults it is still a learning opportunity that puts them at risk.
Scammers are becoming more and more skilled and use the internet, as well as technological devices to take advantage of people. Therefore, as part of the free online resource library created together to help you improve your experience with your devices, Chase and the AARP Foundation share the steps you need to take to prevent and report fraud.
Pay attention and follow these steps to avoid falling into the trap and stay safe on the Internet:
1. Identify the three most common types of scam. Fraud has many forms. Scammers try to mislead people in person, by phone, by text message, over the internet (including social media), and in any way that they can obtain personal information or money. Know the most common:
- Scammers posing as government personnel: This form of scam was one of the most reported in 2020 and is used more frequently with the Social Security Administration. A scammer contacts you and poses as a government agency official to gain access to your sensitive personal information. The tactic is to obtain your sensitive personal information (Social Security number, Medicare number, and information from your bank accounts) to sell or use to commit identity theft.
- Scammers posing as technical assistance experts: Scammers impersonating help desk personnel prey on the fear you feel when they tell you that your computer or mobile device is badly infected and needs immediate and expensive repair. Do not believe them. These fake technicians want to steal your money or your identity, not repair your device.
- Scam using the love of grandparents: This type of scam is commonly reported and unfortunately takes advantage of grandparents’ love and concern for their grandchildren. Basically, you get a call from someone claiming to be your grandson who urgently needs money to get out of serious trouble. If older adults know what common scams are, they can better protect themselves in the future.
2. Protect. You already have the first step to protect yourself. You are already familiar with the most common scams. Now you must stay alert.
Second, know the red flags of a scam, like an agency call or an unsolicited check in the mail.
Identify the ways in which scammers contact their victims: by email, by phone, by text message, and on websites.
Do not share personal or financial information over the phone or online with unsolicited contacts as this makes identity theft possible. Don’t share it with anyone who calls you out of the blue, no matter who they claim to be. If you answer and someone asks for this information, hang up.
It is advisable to set alerts and notifications to monitor your accounts. Set up an alert so that a notification is sent to you every time a withdrawal is made from them. Alerts are tools to help you manage your accounts. Still, you should review your balances and banking activities regularly.
Use only trusted sites when you want to shop online. You will know that you are using the secure site of a store or business when you see an ‘s’ at the end of the URL, that is, https: // and then the name of the site.
3. Report the scam. If you have suspicions or have been a victim of financial fraud, it is important that you notify someone to prevent the situation from worsening. Also, if you are ever in imminent physical danger, immediately call 911. There are also online resources, government entities, and nonprofits that can help you report fraud or financial exploitation:
o AARP Fraud Network (877-908-3360 / aarp.org/money/scams-fraud)
o Office of protective services for the elderly in your city of the National Center on Elder Abuse (1-800-677-1116 / ncea.acl.gov)
o Adult Protective Services (1-800-677-1116 / eldercare.acl.gov)
o Office for Consumer Financial Protection (855-411-2372 / consumerfinance.gov/es/)
o Federal Trade Commission (ftc.gov/es; robodeidentidad.gov/#/ / 877-438-4338)
o Senate Special Committee on Aging (aging.senate.gov)
o Your city police department
Likewise, the Office for Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB) has a free guide (available in Spanish) entitled Money Smart for older adults, which you can obtain on the website consumerfinance.gov/es. This guide details common sense preventable scams, helps you avoid fraud, and suggests steps you and your caregiver can take to avoid becoming victims or targets of a scammer.
If you want to better educate yourself on how to protect yourself and how prepared you are to face fraud, take the virtual workshop on how to spot a scam or visit the free online resource library from Chase and the AARP Foundation, where you will find free tools, workshops and videos in Spanish and English to help you improve your experience with technology, internet and smart devices.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.