(RepublicanPress.org) – Scams aren’t anything new. However, with the rise of the internet, the availability of potential victims has risen to include virtually anyone in the world interacting with others online. As a result, potential victims need to be wary of possible fraud schemes in person and online these days.
As is all too often the case with street crime, cybercriminals frequently target the elderly on the world wide web. However, knowledge is power, and this article will help guide you through five fraud schemes that put older people at risk.
1. The Classic Grandparent Scam
The Grandparent Scam can be one of the scariest schemes out there targeting older adults. For instance, you might suddenly receive a desperate phone call or email from someone claiming to be your grandchild. They’ll say they need money quickly because they’ve been arrested and have no one to turn to. The problem is, the person on the other end of the call or message isn’t a relative.
2. Health Insurance Scams
These scams take on a variety of forms. For instance, scammers call and say they need to verify sensitive information for your policy like your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card information. Another involves a scammer calling or emailing you, claiming you need to pay a nominal fee for a new Medicare card to keep your coverage. You may also receive a call or message from a company offering a fake discounted insurance plan.
3. Fake Online Retailers
Online shopping scams are nothing new, but cybercriminals have learned how to make impressive-looking websites that appear real. The sites typically offer deals that are “too good to be true.” They collect payment upfront, and you either don’t receive anything, or you get an inferior product that only vaguely resembles what you thought you were purchasing.
4. Phishing and Spoofing
Typically, potential victims will receive a letter or email that appears to have come from a government agency, banking institution, or a business. The message attempts to get you to hand over confidential information like credit card and bank account numbers. Some online scammers ask you to click on a link and sign in to your PayPal, bank, or credit card account.
5. Social Security Scams
Scammers call or message you claiming your Social Security number was used during the commission of a crime, and you face arrest if you don’t send money to correct the situation. For example, scammers might tell you that someone used your number for a rental car involved in a bank heist, and the FBI has dispatched agents to your home.
How to Avoid Becoming a Victim
Most, if not all of these scams, have a common thread — a sense of urgency, that something terrible will happen if you don’t act quickly. One sure-fire way to avoid these fraudsters is never to allow them to make you feel rushed. Instead, take your time and call family and friends for advice.
You should also:
- Avoid clicking on any links in emails if you weren’t expecting them, as they could be an attempt to get your password
- Never send money to an unknown destination or recipient
- Check out unfamiliar businesses online or with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to verify their authenticity
- Never give out sensitive private or financial information over the phone or in an email
You can visit the FBI website at www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety for more information about avoiding becoming a victim of fraud.
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