Mar 12
Shot of a senior woman using a tablet at home

Protect Yourself or a Loved One from Online Scams

Every year, thieves steal approximately $40 billion from vulnerable older Americans over the internet. This is often referred to as “cybercrime.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports that cybercrimes against individuals age 65 and older are rapidly increasing, in part because more seniors are spending time online.

According to the FBI, several factors play into older adults being prime candidates of cybercrime. Their credit history and the simple fact that they are part of a generation that is generally trusting and helpful fuels such crimes. They may suffer from cognitive decline or be isolated, making them more susceptible to a friendly email or voice on the phone. The FBI offers these helpful tips to protect yourself or someone you love:

  • Get familiar with the basics of computer and internet security
  • Avoid shopping online
  • Do not give away financial information over the telephone or internet
  • Have computers checked for malware and protected frequently
  • Visit only known and trustworthy websites and avoid unfamiliar websites, which may have programs that take personal information without consent
  • Be suspicious and click with care
  • Avoid opening e-mails from unknown senders
  • Use telephones with caller identification and talk only to known individuals
  • Avoid making charitable contributions over the telephone

If you have a loved one living with memory issues or cognitive decline, consider having a second person on the bank account for additional oversight. Have their bank report any irregular financial activity. If an older adult is suspected of being a victim of an online or telemarketing scam, you should call the police and make a report. You should also contact Adult Protective Services.

Finally, if you have a loved one who has been a victim of a cybercrime, don’t scold them or make them feel ashamed of falling victim to a thief. Explain to them that this is a common problem and there are many others in their situation. Work with them to find ways to ensure it doesn’t happen again. You can start by sitting down to watch this great video from AARP. Let them know it’s good information for everyone to have.

Learn more about this important topic

Era Living’s Director of Health and Wellness, Albert Munanga, has gone into more detail about this situation in this informative article.