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Online Safety for Older Adults: Avoiding Scams

By Lauren Monteverde February 07, 2024

Americans lost almost $9 billion to scammers in 2022. Online scams tend to target elders more than any other demographic. Part of this is because they often have more money.

Scammers will also make things purposely confusing or complicated to lure in victims. This leaves us with an interesting problem. How do we keep people safe from scammers and their cons?

The simplest answer is to keep people informed. Great minds think alike but fools rarely differ, and scammers are nothing if not fools. Most of them tend to take their schemes from the same playbook. We'll talk about some of them here.

Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are a type of email scam that uses bait to try to trick or coerce information out of you. This bait can come in many different forms.

One type claims that you've won massive amounts of money in some sort of contest, and it just needs some information to send you your reward. Ignore them. You can't win a contest you didn't enter.

Another popular phishing scam are emails looking to be from someone you know, such as a boss or coworker, or from a well known company. There will be something off in the email address, like a misspelling. They will usually ask you to do something, like click on the link, or update your personal information, do not click on links or send any personal information. If in doubt, always contact the real company or person directly. 

Most types of phishing emails focus on something going wrong. They might claim that a friend needs help, your accounts have been hacked, or you've broken the law. If any of these things were true, you wouldn't learn of them through an email.

Romance Scam

Online scams aren't confined to emails. Some of them happen through social media. The best example of this is probably the romance scam. Having a social life is important at any age, and you're never too old for romance. We'd still advise you to be careful.

Romance scams occur when a scammer poses as a prospective love interest over social media. They attract people and gain their trust. They then ask for money or personal information. The best advice is to avoid giving personal information or money to people on social media. Try to vet anybody before getting too attached.

Medicare Scam

A Medicare scam is one of the most common scams out there. You'll receive a call, email, or other message claiming to be a Medicare official. This is an impersonation. Medicare will never contact you by phone or email for personal information. They'll send you a letter, and will never come to your door.

Medicare itself has addressed these issues. They tell you how to contact them and how to avoid getting scammed.

Other Scams

There are several other scams out there. You might get hit with a phone scam or a tech support scam. Don't pay them any attention. Tech support won't contact you. Do not give personal information out over the phone or through emails. If you do get calls or emails asking for this information, do not give it, and contact the company directly to see if anything is needed. For example, if someone calls and claims they are from AT&T, hang up and contact AT&T directly. 

There might also be fake websites, fake diets, and various other things. Look up anything that you're not sure about.

Avoiding Online Scams as a Senior

If you're worried about someone you know falling victim to online scams, you're not alone. The good news is that there are ways to stay safe online, and we've discussed some of them here.

You can learn more about healthcare and related topics by reading our blog. You can also read more about us. We at Complete Care Medical pride ourselves on providing education and helping patients achieve overall wellbeing.

Contact us at any time to speak to an expert.

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