Cybercrime affects every age group. Often, older adults are targeted by scammers for their more established savings, medical benefits, tax information, etc. In 2019, the FBI/IC3 received 68,013 complaints from victims over the age of 60 with adjusted losses in excess of $835 million (Keep in mind that age is not a required detail in the reporting form; these figures come solely from those who chose to report their age). Older adults face cybercrime risk every day. If you are a caregiver, nurse, or family member who is supporting an older adult in the face of cybercrime, we’re here to help! Let’s take a look at the top five scams that you need to look out for, and how to recover from them.
Social Security Impersonation Scam
A Social Security impersonation scam is executed by a fraudster who impersonates the Social Security Administration (SSA) in an attempt to obtain your personal information and money. Remember that the SSA will never call you and ask for your Social Security number! If you have been targeted by this scam, start the recovery process by notifying your bank or financial institution about the theft of your Social Security number to prevent any fraudulent charges from hitting your account. In order to monitor your credit, check your free annual credit report.
Robocalls are automated phone calls where scammers pose as representatives from your bank, credit card company, or a government agency to get your valuable personal information. Fraudsters can change their caller ID to make the number look familiar to you; this is called spoofing. Never share personal information over the phone with someone you do not know or trust. Avoid sharing information unless you are the one who initiated the contact.
Romance scams are very common in the age of online dating. These scams rely on social engineering to convince individuals to send them money/personal information. In 2019, the FBI/IC3 reported that romance fraud accounted for $475,014,032 in total losses. If a person you’re chatting with online asks you for money, stop all contact immediately. Block the user on all social media accounts and report them to the dating site you found them on. If you have given them money or any of your personal information, notify your bank or financial institution immediately. Gather information, messages, and photos from the individual. This information will come in handy while you report the crime.
Family Emergency Imposter Scam
In a Family emergency imposter scam, the fraudster will attempt to gain an individual’s trust by impersonating a loved one. They may contact you saying that there has been an emergency and that your loved one needs help. Scammers can call, text, email, or reach out to you via social media. If you are contacted via social media, report them on the platform they found you on. The social media profile may be fake or hacked.
Tech Support Scams
Tech support scams often come in the form of pop-ups or unsolicited phone calls. These messages may indicate that there was a “virus” detected on your device. The scammer asks you to pay for fake technical support. In addition to stealing your money, they may also obtain your personal information or gain access to your device. The first step to recovery is downloading legitimate security software to your device. Contact an IT professional to help you reinstall your operating system or wipe your hard drive. Next, change your passwords. If your passwords are auto-saved to your device, they may be accessible to the scammer.
For more information to help you recognize, report and recover from these types of scams, visit FightCybercrime.org.